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De Perfectione Vita ad Sorores 










Sti. Ludovici, die 19. March, 1923. 

F. G, Hohveck, 

Censor Librorum 

Sti. Ludovici, die 19. March, 1923. 

^Joannes J. Glcnnon, 
Sti. Ludovici 

Copyright, 1923, 

B. Herder Book Co. 

Printed in U. S. A. 





















"Blessed is the man whom Thou shalt in 
struct, O Lord, and shalt teach out of Thy 
Law." 1 I hold that only the man taught by the 
Holy Spirit and imbued with His blessed unc 
tion, is to be considered wise. The Prophet 
David lays down the same principle. He alone 
is really happy and wise whose mind the Lord 
has made learned in the Law. "The Law of 
God," he notes elsewhere, 2 is the only law 
"without fault" and irreproachable. It monop 
olises the secret of "converting souls" to the 
way of salvation. To read the Law does not 
suffice. We discover its weal h of mean 
ing and reap the fruits of its profound learn- 

1 Ps. xciii, 12. 

2 Ps. xviii, 8. 

ii Holiness of Life 

ing in devout and affectionate meditation. 
"In Spirit and in truth," 3 conscientiously, are 
we to seek this meaning. We must beg the 
Holy Spirit, with ardent longing, to give us 
these fruits. The Holy Ghost alone knows 
how to bring to light the sweetness hidden away 
under the rugged exterior of the words of the 
Law. To the Holy Ghost must we go for in 
terior guidance. 

The Law of the Lord teaches us the way to 
live, what is to be done, avoided, believed, 
prayed for, longed for and feared. It teaches 
how to live the blameless and spotless life, how 
to keep one s promises, and how to be sincerely 
contrite for one s failings. The Law of the 
Lord teaches contempt for earthly things, and 
a loathing for all things of the flesh. Finally, 
it explains how with whole heart, whole soul, 
and whole mind we are to be converted to 
Jesus Christ. 4 Compared with the doctrine of 
God s Law, worldly wisdom is vain and foolish. 
"As long as a man does not fear or love God, 

1 1 Thess. i, 5. 
4 Matt, xxii, 37. 

Preface Hi 

no matter how great his reputation for wisdom 
may be," says St. Bernard, "I shall never con 
sider him wise." B I would remind you that 
many forget what they hear. They are not 
numbered among the wise. The truly wise 
man acts, and does zealously what the Law pre 
scribes. The doer is the wise and the happy 
man. "Blessed is the man whom Thou shalt 
instruct, O Lord, and shalt teach him out of 
Thy Law." 

You asked me, Reverend Mother, dear to me 
and devoted to God, to outline from the poor 
treasures of my heart some little thing that 
for the time being would be a help to devo 
tion and would bring some light to your soul. 
Really, it is I who need such help, particularly 
as my life is not a shining example to others. 
Inwardly, I am not burning with tender devo 
tion. Further, I have scarcely the knowledge 
necessary to do what you ask. Nevertheless, 
out of regard for your repeatedly expressed 
wishes, and anxious to oblige you, I have done 
what you so earnestly prayed of me. 
Sern. 73 de Diversis. 

iv Holiness of Life 

Let me, however, beg of Your Beatitude, 6 
dear most holy Mother, not to think so much of 
what I have written, as of my good and kind 
intentions. Please look for the truths of which 
I speak rather than for beauty of expression. 
Where I do not come up to your expectations, 
pardon me, and put my shortcomings down, 
please, to lack of time and stress of business. 

6 See Editor s Introduction. 




Although written primarily for women liv 
ing in Religion, St. Bonaventure s treatise on 
Holiness of Life (De Perfectione Vitae ad 
Sorores) will strongly appeal to every Catholic 
heart. Its value as a manual of spiritual read 
ing, at once elevating, inspiriting and practical, 
can hardly be over-estimated. It opens an easy 
way to a sound and profitable self-knowledge; 
it wins the soul to Christian humility, and to an 
unworldliness which is the secret of a contented 
and joyful heart; it teaches a method of con 
templation on the Passion of Our Lord, full of 
devout attractiveness; it reveals the secret of 
fruitful and heartfelt prayer. In a word it 
treats of the great and permanent things in 
spiritual life and practice, and does this with 

II Foreword 

such living fervour that it sets our hearts on 
fire. There are no gloomy spaces darkened by 
the shadow of that Calvinism that was to 
come; no hard lines of rigour to remind us of 
Jansenism. Everywhere we find the cheerful 
seriousness of Catholicism, the reflection of the 
soul of a saint who lived in the bright and spa 
cious days of that glorious and supremely 
Catholic century, the Thirteenth. 

To those acquainted with the life of St. 
Bonaventure his very name will be a sufficient 
recommendation of the treatise now translated. 
John Gerson, the learned and pious Chancellor 
of the University of Paris, who has been re 
puted by many to be the author of the Imita 
tion of Christ, set the highest value on the 
writings of St. Bonaventure. He regarded 
Bonaventure as the most perfect of the Univer 
sity teachers. He did not know if the Univer 
sity had ever produced his equal. He applied 
to him the words of Our Lord concerning 
St. John the Baptist, "He was a burning and a 
shining light." Therefore he compared him to 
Cherub and to Seraph to Cherub, for the 

Foreword III 

brightness of his intellect, to Seraph, for the 
burning fire of his heart. He had not found 
any teaching more elevating and salutary than 
his. He admired him for keeping clear of 
curious and useless questions, and for being 
solid, safe and devout in all he said. 

To the testimony of one who knew St. Bona- 
venture in his writings, it will be interesting to 
add the testimony of one who knew him also in 
life. This was Peter of Tarentaise. He was 
a Dominican, and had been professor in the 
University of Paris, where he won the title of 
Doctor Famosissimus. He became succes 
sively Archbishop of Lyons, Cardinal Bishop 
of Ostia, and Supreme Pontiff. He is beati 
fied, and known as Blessed Innocent V. \Yhile 
yet Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, he had taken to 
gether with St. Bonaventure a prominent part 
in the Council of Lyons. St. Bonaventure died 
before the Council had concluded, and when 
Pope and Council attended the funeral service 
in the Franciscan Church in Lyons, Peter of 
Tarentaise preached the funeral sermon. His 
feeling towards Bonaventure is shown in his 

IV Foreword 

choice of text; for he chose those tender and 
touching words with which David had lamented 
the death of his friend Jonathan. All who 
listened to his discourse would have approved 
the description of Bonaventure as one who was 
always gentle, affable, humble, pleasing to all, 
so that all who knew him held him in high 
esteem, and had great affection for him. 

St. Bonaventure s writings reflect his char 
acter. Like the Saint, himself in life, they have 
a magnetic power which draws the heart to a 
desire of higher things. They conquer, not by 
force of eloquent language, but by the persua 
sive attractiveness of a calm and beautiful 
spirit. The transparent humility of a great 
soul puts to shame all the vanity of our little 
ness. His thought glows frequently with mys 
tic splendour, which warms and inspires. The 
treatise on Holiness of Life is written in an 
easy and familiar style. It is like a friendly 
talk. The mysticism is subdued ; and there is 
not wanting, as in the section on silence, an 
element of keen observation and humorous sar 
casm. As we read the wise, friendly, and fer- 

Foreword V 

vent words we rejoice in an experience like that 
of the two disciples : "Was not our heart burn 
ing within us, whilst he spoke in the way, and 
opened to us the Scriptures?" (Lk. xxiv, 32) 
We owe the translator and the editor a great 
debt for giving us in English this beautiful 
treatise. \Ve wish it a wide circulation. No 
one will regret having been in the company of a 
saint who, in life, was gentle, affable, pleasing 
to all. 


St. Bonaventure was born at Bagnorea in 
1221. According to tradition he received the 
name of Bonaventure through the lucky chance 
that caused St. Francis to greet him with the 
words, "O buona ventura." Be that as it may, 
at the age of seventeen, some say twenty-two, 
he knocked at the door of a Franciscan friary 
and asked admittance. Haymon of Faversham, 
an Englishman, was General of the Order, 
lie saw the aspirant, recognised his worth, and 
admitted him. 

Our purpose will be answered though we skip 
the years. After profession, the Superiors of 
the Order sent Bonaventure to the University 
of Paris to continue his studies. Alexander of 
Hales, an Englishman and a Franciscan, was 
teaching theology there, and Paris was the bet 
ter for his teaching. After a time Bonaventure 

VIII Editor s Introduction 

was appointed to teach. His accession to a 
chair in the University brought Paris greater 
fame still. His commentary on Peter Lom 
bard s "Sentences" surpassed in wisdom and 
clearness all others which the Franciscan Order 
had produced. Scotus was not yet. Bona- 
venture s students idolised him. At the height 
of our Saint s career as university lecturer, 
the Dominican Order was represented at Paris 
by a man destined to be called the greatest 
light of Scholasticism, St. Thomas of Aquin. 
We make no comparison, Bonaventure and 
Thomas were bosom friends. The friendship 
between the two showed up well in their united 
defence of the Mendicant Orders, when the lat 
ter became the object of general attack. De 
spite the wonderful lives and profound learn 
ing of the representatives of the Mendicants 
at the University, a certain William of St. 
Amour never lost an opportunity of hurling in 
vectives at, and voicing a vicious and growing 
antagonism to, the Orders. He spoke against 
them and wrote against them. He summed up 
his hate in branding the Mendicants as danger- 

Editor s Introduction IX 

ous to Christian society. Bonaventure wrote 
a defence entitled, "The Poverty of Jesus 
Christ," showing that the practice of poverty 
leads directly to Christian perfection. Quot 
ing the Fathers in support of his teaching, he 
went on to crush objection after objection 
raised by the arch-enemy. While the same 
attack raged, he published in similar defence, 
"Replies to Different Questions raised concern 
ing the Rule of the Friars Minor"; "Why the 
Friars Minor Preach and hear Confessions"; 
"Apology for the Friars Minor." The com 
position of the works which were to keep 
Bonaventure before the world as a profound 
philosopher, a safe theologian, a mystic, a con 
templative, a Scripture scholar, and an exegete 
of repute, was for the time being suspended. 
All his efforts were focirssed on the defence of 
the Mendicants. To conclude our account of 
the incident the Saints in arms won the day. 
When one reads the \vorks of St. Bonaventure 
written in defence, one wonders how William 
of St. Amour s antipathy could have endured 
so long, and one marvels, too, at the ease with 

X Editor s Introduction 

which the authorities permitted the attack to 

Meanwhile the story of Bonaventure s abili 
ties and activities was not lost on the members 
of the Order. A dispute raged among the 
Brethren about the interpretation of the Rule, 
and in particular about poverty. That dispute 
may go far to explain the lawlessness with 
which William of St. Amour attacked the 
Friars. At least two views of poverty found 
acceptance in the Order. John of Parma, as 
General, strove to keep the poverty of St. Fran 
cis as the heritage of his children. He was full 
of fervour and worked to keep to the fore the 
primitive conception of the Rule. He failed as 
General, if it is failure not to win over those 
who will see nothing good in a good man s 
works. During the reign of Pope Alexander 
IV, he bowed his head to the storm of opposi 
tion raised against him, resigned, and nomi 
nated Bonaventure in his stead. 

It was a sad day for Bonaventure, as he had 
no ambition for first places, but it was a glor 
ious day for the Order. Bonaventure proved 

Editor s Introduction XI 

to have the intelligence and prudence of a ruler, 
the heart to be a brother and the humility to be 
a servant to those he governed. He became 
General in 1256, and continued uninterruptedly 
in office till 1274. During this long term of 
office he was elected Archbishop of York, an 
honour which he declined, and later he was 
called to the cardinalate and compelled by 
Apostolic authority and command to accept. 
Even though a cardinal, he continued in office 
as General. The generalship Bonaventure was 
only allowed to resign when the Church was de 
prived of the services of St. Thomas of Aquin, 
and he was burdened with all the duties of 
President of the Council of Lyons. 

His work as General of the Franciscan Or 
der has earned for St. Bonaventure the title of 
"Second Founder." In establishing and con 
solidating the Order on a sure basis, he left 
nothing to chance. First, he turned his atten 
tion on himself. In his book, "The Six Wings 
of the Seraphim" l he describes the model su- 

1 Translated into English by Fr. Sabinus Mollitor, 
O. F. M. t under the title, "The Qualities of a Good 
Superior" (Herder). 

XII Editor s Introduction 

perior. This description he personally realised. 
After he had shaped his manner of life to his 
ideal, he set about the task of inducing all the 
brethren to understand and recognise the spirit 
of the Order and its Founder. For this pur 
pose he persuaded the Pope to issue a Bull re 
voking all privileges and permissions tending to 
lessen the efficacy of that spirit, and at the same 
time giving him, the General, such powers as 
would strengthen his authority in the matter of 
effectively insisting on the changes he might 
think necessary. Fortified with this Bull he set 
to work. That there were abuses he knew, but 
at the same time he had no misgivings as to the 
ultimate issue of his efforts. His letters show 
this clearly. He stated what he considered must 
be corrected, and he ordered how that correction 
was to be effected. He used grave words and 
was emphatic in his method of expression. He 
seems to have known the exact state of the 
Order from the beginning of his government. 
He was certain of himself, and sure, too, that 
in his work of reform he had a body of men 
who would be with him. He was not satis- 

Editor s Introduction XIII 

fied with writing, but visited the different friar 
ies and provinces whenever possible. 

He convoked five general chapters, of which 
the first was the most important. It was held 
at Narbonne, in 1260. The rulings obtained 
by Bonaventure at that chapter consolidated 
the Order and approved the reform. Addres 
sing the friars in council, Bonaventure sub 
mitted his understanding of the Rule in the 
form of a commentary to each of the twelve 
chapters. He secured two effects: first, a 
love for the Rule, and secondly, a direct and 
perfect understanding of its meaning, an un 
derstanding compelling the impossibility of 
misunderstanding or of frittering away that 
meaning. This commentary, like the rest of 
his works, is enriched with a wealth of Scrip 
tural quotation and comparison. After ex 
plaining his ideas on the Rule, Bonaventure 
proposed and enacted divers minor regulations 
or constitutions, touching particularly on pov 
erty. Finally, with the concurrence of the 
Chapter, he delimitated anew the territories of 
the different provinces, and before the Cap- 

XIV Editor s Introduction 

ilular Fathers dispersed, promised to write the 
Legend or Life of St. Francis. 

Bonaventure came at a time of excep 
tional difficulty. He overcame all difficulties, 
whether they arose through the actions of 
recalcitrant friars, or were the outcome of the 
fears of the more timorous among the Breth 
ren. He induced pristine fervour, enabled the 
friars to practise primitive observance, and 
brought back to the Order as a body and to 
the members individually the spirit and ideas 
of St. Francis, without imposing fanatical 
readings or allowing lax interpretations. 

Duties that came his way exercised his 
judgment, as, for instance, the question of 
John of Parma s relation to the book, The 
Eternal Gospel." Other duties charmed his 
soul and brought him comfort. The loss of 
St. Antony was a blow, but all sorrow passed 
when, in translating the relics of the Saint, he 
found the tongue intact and incorrupt. One 
who was himself to be canonised was per 
mitted to give utterance to a eulogy of a saint. 
His duties took him to Alverna, but he went as 

Editor s Introduction XV 

a pilgrim and experienced all the sweet ravish 
ments of a soul in love with Francis and God. 
Preaching was no task to him. He was so 
full of learning, knew the Scriptures and the 
Fathers so well, had such an active imagina 
tion, power of conception, easy memory, and 
command of language, that he was always 
ready and happy to preach. There may be lit 
tle doubt that Bonaventure was one of the 
greatest preachers of the time. This state 
ment is confirmed by contemporary writers. 
No one preached so often and yet so well. 
He has left us sermons on the principal feasts 
and festivals of the year, sermons for various 
occasions, sermons on Our Lady, sermons on 
the Saints, and sermons on theological sub 
jects. He was a master of conference. If 
we except St. Bernardine s works, scarcely 
anything has been written to compare with 
Bonaventure s conferences on the Holy Ghost. 
He is happy in his treatment of the art of 
preaching. It is consoling to find a saint will 
ing to teach others how to preach. One could 
understand him hesitating and finding it diffi- 

xvi Editor s Introduction 

cult to say how sermons should be prepared 
and delivered. Yet, St. Bonaventure in a 
short dissertation lays down rules and is not 
afraid to exemplify his rules as he goes along. 

The missions confided to the care of the 
Order were the object even of his dreams. It 
is said that he always envied the man to whom 
he granted permission to proceed on the mis 
sion. His pleasure was great when such per 
mission was asked; nevertheless, his concern 
for the Rule and the mission was such that he 
required exceptional qualities and sure signs 
of vocation in the applicant. While Bonaven 
ture ruled the Order, missionaries were dis 
patched to more than twenty-three infidel na 

A man of restless activity, unbounded en 
thusiasm, and unflagging zeal, he found his 
happiness in work. The Popes employed him 
in the highest offices of trust. The confi 
dence shown in him, added to the fact that in 
his hands and under his guidance God had re 
newed the pious infancy of the Order, made 
Bonaventure a happy man. Over and above he 

Editor s Introduction XVII 

had the happiness that is the reward of piety. 
He was good, he was virtuous, he was ad 
vanced in virtue. It is impossible to read his 
writings without being persuaded that Bona- 
venture was an adept in the workings of the 
mystical life and that he tasted of the sweets 
and delights of contemplation and union. 

As General of the Franciscan Order he came 
in touch with the Poor Clares. The Poor 
Clares, or Poor Ladies, form the Second Or 
der of St. Francis. St. Francis longed to save 
souls. When St. Clare came to him and ex 
plained her ideals and wishes, he received her 
as a child of God, and helped her to realise the 
spiritual and religious life. Posterity has 
written him down as the founder in God of 
the Poor Clares. Clare is considered as 
foundress, and the critic is certain that Cardi 
nal Ugolini wrote the Rule. How much 
Francis had to do with forming St. Clare and 
what assistance he gave in the composition of 
the Rule matters little to us here. The Poor 
Clares grew up in the shadow of the birth 
place of the Franciscan Order and under the 

xvni Editor s Introduction 

protection of St. Francis and the patronage of 
the Brethren. All the same St. Francis wished 
the relationship between the two Orders to be 
merely one of charity and kind direction. He 
wished no reciprocal obligation or right to ex 
ist. In the days of virulent opposition to the 
Mendicants, the Poor Clares were discussed 
in conjunction with the Friars, and the dis 
cussions were not always delicate. They could 
scarcely be so when no calumny was too vile to 
level at the Friars. Assertions, insinuations, 
and calumnies ultimately were reduced to the 
leading question : "Why do you burden your 
selves with the charge of the Poor Clares?" 
"The Order of Clares," Bonaventure an 
swered, "is in no bondage to our Order, and 
neither is our Order in bondage to the Clares. 
The Clares may ask of us no duty that is of 
obligation on our part. Their Cardinal Pro 
tector has charged us from time to time with 
certain duties in their behalf, but so, too, the 
Brethren have been equally charged with 
similar duties towards religious women of 
other Orders. Our Rule, however, does not 

Editor s Introduction XIX 

compel us in the least tittle to the service of 
the Clares." Because there were sinister 
minds, under Bonaventure s guidance at the 
Chapter of Pisa, in 1263, all occasion for mur- 
murings and accusations was removed. Once 
and for all the Friars decided, with the appro 
val of Pope Urban IV, to give up all direction 
of the Clares. "Man proposes, and God dis 
poses. 1 It was ever so. The very next year, 
yielding to earnest entreaties, Bonaventure 
consented to allow his brethren to resume the 
direction of the Poor Clares, provided it was 
clearly understood that the services rendered 
were rendered purely out of charity and un 
der the discharge of no obligation of justice. 
For the Poor Clares Bonaventure wrote, 
"De Perfectione Vitae." Rev. Father Lau 
rence Costello, O. F. M., translated it into 
English a little before he died, in 1909. Hav 
ing in view that St. Bonaventure proposed to 
outline the means of perfection, he called the 
work, "Holiness of Life." We have kept 
that title, though we have not felt compelled to 
adhere slavishly to the translation Fr. Costello 

XX Editor s Introduction 

left behind him. Very Rev. Father George 
Payne, O. F. M. (Provincial), when putting 
the manuscript into our hands, asked us to edit 
it and prepare it for publication. We have 
done so and offer it now to the reading public. 

"Holiness of Life" was addressed to a Poor 
Clare of Bonaventure s acquaintance, probably 
Isabella, the sister of St. Louis, King of 
France. Following the advice and rules of 
life and conduct given to her in these pages, 
Isabella advanced in virtue and persevered. 
She has been raised to the altar, and under the 
title of "Blessed," her memory is venerated 
and her feast kept on February 26. 

"Holiness of Life" is a small work but con 
tains much in a narrow compass. It exhales 
the author s sweetness of soul. In it Bona- 
venture shows spiritual knowledge, knowledge 
of God, and knowledge of self. He discovers 
that he knows how to pray, how to love God, 
how to be poor and to imitate Christ s poverty, 
and how to progress in virtue. It is difficult 
to say which chapter shows the most thought, 
though here and there we notice a certain un- 

Editor s Introduction XXI 

evenness. The chapter on the passion of Jesus 
Christ is full of seraphic charm. Thought 
and learning abound. The Minor Prophets 
he leaves out of count, but quotes all the other 
books of the Old Testament, and naturally 
illustrates them with quotations from the New 
Testament. He quotes both exactly and re- 
miniscently, but never carelessly. The Fathers 
choice sayings he frequently introduces to ex 
plain and embellish his own thoughts, and 
quotes in particular Saints Augustine and Ber 
nard. Those who reading this little work 
come into direct touch with St. Bonaventure 
for the first time will love him for his love of 
the Sacred Heart. This is how he speaks of 
the Sacred Heart: 

"Draw near with loving steps to Jesus 
wounded for you, to Jesus crowned with 
thorns, to Jesus nailed to the gibbet of the 
Cross. Gaze with the Blessed Apostle, St. 
Thomas, not merely on the print of the nails 
in Christ s hands ; be not satisfied with put 
ting your finger into the holes made by the 
nails in His hands; neither let it be sufficient 

XXII Editor s Introduction 

to put your hand into the wound in His side ; 
but enter bodily by the door in His side and 
go straight up to the very Heart of Jesus. 
There, burning with love for Christ crucified, 
be transformed into Christ." 

"Holiness of Life" outlines St. Bonaven- 
ture s conception of the inner life. We can 
not say of it what must be said of the "Solilo- 
quium," "The Triple Way," and the "Itiner- 
arium," which together constitute a complete 
treatise on Mystical Theology, and prove that 
St. Bonaventure was a master of mystical 
science. "Holiness of Life" is but an outline. 
It outlines the way to perfection, offers the 
means of holiness, joins up the purely asceti- 
cal with the mystical, and is not above the 
comprehension of the ordinary intelligence. 
It is suitable reading for religious and laity. 

Perhaps this is the best place to speak of 
St. Bonaventure s other works. His Commen 
tary on the Book of Sentences of Peter Lom 
bard, by reason of the part treating of the doc 
trine of the Incarnation, places Bonaventure 
well ahead of all other commentators. He 

Editor s Introduction XXIII 

explains as one who had learned the secrets 
of the very heart of Jesus. This is not our 
personal estimate. It is the considered judg 
ment of Pope Clement IV, Henry of Ghent, 
Saint Antonine, Gerson, and his learned editors. 
The "Breviloquium" is a complete course of 
theology, a manual, if you like, but an in 
comparable manual. Besides being a complete 
and handy course of theology, it is a manual of 
prayer. The "Itinerarium Bonaventure com 
posed and wrote in moments of sublime con 
templation on Mount Alverna. Although writ 
ten in a three fold vein of philosophy, theology 
and mysticism, it is essentially a book of de 
votion, and is the fruit of Bonaventure s pious 
meditations. We have no space to discourse 
on his philosophic teaching. \Ye say simply, 
that he is philosophical in all his works, and, 
for that matter, in all his actions. If the 
reader wishes to see philosophy pushed to the 
heights and to the depths, begging reason to 
prove, he must make a study of the "Itiner 
arium. When he knows the "Itinerarium" 
reason will have shown him all things in God. 

xxiv Editor s Introduction 

Should he desire a book of theology that will 
lift him from an understanding of God and 
His works right up to God, and force him to 
long for contemplation and possession, he must 
carry as a vade-mecum the "Breviloquium." 

"The Explanation of Theological Terms," 
the "Treatise on the Four Cardinal Virtues" 
the Quarrachi editors do not admit to be 
straight from the pen of St. Bonaventure; 
they allow, however, that these works may 
have been compiled from other of his writings. 
The Mirror of the Soul" is one of the best 
of the smaller works doubtfully attributed to 
him. By means of an understanding of this 
book (its division is good, and the resume 
with which it concludes perfect) any one may 
see himself in a mirror, so to speak, and dis 
cover if vice holds him in servitude. 

The Middle Ages form the classical period 
of devotion to Our Blessed Lady. St. Francis 
love for Mary requires no writing up, and 
neither does St. Bonaventure s. Devotion to 
Our Lady is a Franciscan tradition. St. Bona 
venture instituted the "Angelus" as a Francis- 

Editor s Introduction XXV 

can practice. The rule of the Saturday Mass 
in honour of Our Lady, introduced by St. 
Francis, was confirmed by Bonaventure. Al 
though the latter does not teach the doctrine 
of the Immaculate Conception, his treatment 
of the matter "marked a distinct advance," 
writes Fr. Paschal Robinson, "and he did 
more perhaps than any one before Scotus to 
clear the ground for its correct presentation." 
In his works Bonaventure makes constant 
reference to Our Lady, and if we may judge 
by results, he kept Mary ever in mind when 
he was studying the Scriptures. Up and down 
his works he is for ever introducing sym 
bolic Scriptural types of the Mother of God. 
As we have already noticed, he left behind him 
a host of sermons with Mary and Mary s pre 
rogatives as subject. Before enumerating his 
Scripture studies and works we may note that 
St. Bonaventure founded at Rome a society or 
confraternity, possibly the first in honour of the 
Mother of God. 

Fr. Paschal Robinson says of Bonaventure s 
exegetical writings that they "were highly es- 

xxvi Editor s Introduction 

teemed in the Middle Ages and still remain 
a treasure house of thoughts and treatises." 
The Quarrachi editors accept as genuine his 
Commentaries on Ecclesiastes, Wisdom, the 
Gospels of SS. John and Luke, almost a hun 
dred conferences on the Gospel of St. John, 
and a course of instructions on the first chap 
ter of Genesis. "The Exposition of the Lord s 
Prayer" and the "Lamentations of Jeremias" 
they class as doubtful. By his profound un 
derstanding of Holy Writ, St. Bonaventure 
stamps himself and his teaching as coming 
from God. His knowledge of the writ 
ings of the Fathers proclaims him a painstak 
ing student. We recognise him as a genius 
by his facile use of his acquired and (we must 
say it, he insinuated it in all humility to St. 
Thomas) his intuitive knowledge. Every 
where in his works there are signs that knowl 
edge and understanding came to St. Bona 
venture in devout prayer and contemplation. 

His \vorks on phases of the religious life we 
have already mentioned. With one or two 
exceptions they may be classed roughly as 

Editor s Introduction XXVII 

works dealing with the mystical life. St. Bo- 
naventure s reputation as a writer is not based 
on his explanation of mysticism. He is not 
professedly a mystic, though it would be 
wrong to say that he is not a mystic of the 
first rank. "The Triple Way" has been called 
"a perfect exposition of the best mysticism." 
The "Soliloquium" is a compilation of the ascet- 
ical teaching and the mysticism of the Fathers. 
Our estimate of St. Bonaventure s works is 
not a critical estimate. We wished merely to 
give information and incidentally to draw at 
tention to the dowry with which St. Bonaven- 
ture has enriched Catholic literature. \Ye have 
wandered in the domains of that dowry pos 
sibly too long, and our wanderings have been 
thither and hither without much direction. If 
we have overlooked nothing of importance and 
have neither over-estimated nor negligently 
belittled St. Bonaventure s writings, we are 
satisfied. Except when lecturing at Paris, St. 
Bonaventure never could give much time to 
study and composition. From the day that 
he was elected General of the Order, to the 

XXVIII Editor s Introduction 

end, the duties of office were the first claim on 
his services. The multiplicity of his works 
under such circumstances speaks highly of his 

When Gregory X created Bonaventure Card 
inal-Bishop of Albano, the Council of Lyons 
had already been convoked. The following 
year (1274) Bonaventure received papal in 
structions to report at Lyons. St. Thomas of 
Aquin was also called. Alas for Bonaventure 
and the Church, St. Thomas fell ill on the way 
and died. St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure, 
we have observed, were great friends, each 
professing an unbounded appreciation of the 
other. St. Thomas considered Bonaventure 
the greatest light in the learned firmament of 
his age. "Where," he asked him, "did you 
acquire so much knowledge? From which 
books did you learn ?" For answer, and in no 
spirit of self-complacency, Bonaventure pointed 
to the crucifix. The story goes, too, that when 
Pope Urban IV decided to institute the feast 
of Corpus Christi, he commanded St. Thomas 
and St. Bonaventure to compose each an Office 

Editors Introduction XXIX 

in praise of the Mystery of the Body and Blood 
of Christ. The day came when the Saints 
presented their compositions to the Pope. St. 
Thomas read his aloud, and as he read, Bona- 
venture, overcome with the sublimity of thought 
and the beauty of imagery, coupled with the 
exactitude of religious truth and the dignity 
of expression, could not restrain his admira 
tion. Persuaded that God s hand and the in 
spiration of the Holy Spirit were in the words 
to which he listened, and that his own compo 
sition was, in comparison, weak and spiritless, 
he there and then, it is said, tore into shreds the 
work he had prepared. 

At the earlier sessions of the Council of 
Lyons the Pope presided, but later on the di 
rection of affairs fell to St. Bonaventure. 
Meanwhile Bonaventure held his last General 
Chapter of the Order and laid down the reins 
of government. Re-union was one of the 
main objects of the Council. When the Greek 
delegates arrived, empowered to sign an agree 
ment of re-union and to swear fealty and 
loyalty to the See of Peter, Bonaventure was 

xxx Editor s Introduction 

instructed to open "conversations." The con 
ference was successful, A formula of agree 
ment was drawn up and signed, and the Greeks 
abjured the schism and made formal submis 
sion to the Pope. Success achieved, Bonaven- 
ture fell ill. 

Despite the efforts of physicians Bonaven- 
ture continued ill. Prayers and masses were 
offered up at the urgent request of the Pope, 
but Bonaventure grew worse. As it became 
apparent to the Pope that Bonaventure was 
fast sinking, he administered the last Sacra 
ments. Knowing that he was unable to swal 
low, the patient begged the Holy Father to 
place the Consecrated Host beside him, so that 
his eyes might rest upon the sacramental species. 
Then was witnessed a marvellous happening. 
The Sacred Host took to itself motion, and 
moving slowly, left the ciborium and came 
and rested on the breast of the Saint. A mo 
ment later it sank out of sight into the dying 
Bonaventure s breast. Nine days after falling 
ill he died. 

The rest may be told in a few words. The 

Editor s Introduction XXXI 

date of his death was July 15, 1274. Two hun 
dred years later, April 14, 1482, he was can 
onised. Still one hundred years later Sixtus 
V declared him a Doctor of the Uni 
versal Church. Posterity calls St. Bona- 
venture the Seraphic Doctor, but let it 
be remembered that he was so called even in 
his own day. To look upon him, we are told, 
was to love him. To listen to him was to 
listen to words burning with love for God 
His works inspire love for God. What won 
der then that Pope Sixtus V gave his approba 
tion and put his seal to the general encomiums, 
and with solemn decree ordered St. Bonaven- 
ture to be honoured for all time as the 





The spouse of Christ who longs to become 
perfect must begin with her own self. She 
must put aside, forget everything else, and en 
ter into the secrecy of her own heart. When 
she has done this, let her sift narrowly all her 
weaknesses, habits, affections, actions and 
sins. She must weigh everything carefully, 
and make a thorough examination of past and 
present. Should she discover even the least 
imperfection, let her weep in the bitterness of 
her heart. 

Negligence, passion, and malice are the root 
causes of sin. 7 When we realise, dear mother, 
that our sins and imperfections originate from 

T Cf. S. Bonav., Threefold Way, i. 


2 Holiness of Life 

one or other of these three causes, we enter on 
the way to an exact understanding of ourselves ; 
but unless in our recollection of past offences 
we put our finger on the precise cause of each 
sin, we shall never reach the goal of perfect 

Perfect self-knowledge, I feel sure, is the 
object you propose to yourself. You wish, 
helped by such knowledge, to bewail your past 
transgressions. Since this is so you cannot do 
better than proceed as follows. First, discover 
by reflection whether you are occasionally or 
habitually negligent. Recollect whether the 
control of your heart is slipshod and hap 
hazard. Are you careless in the use of your 
time? Is the intention you propose to your 
self habitually imperfect? Examine diligently 
on these three heads, because it is of the utmost 
importance that you govern your affections, 
that you spend your time profitably and always 
and in every action have a good and becoming 
object or end in view. 

Recollect how negligent you have been in 
the discharge of your duties : prayer, reading, 

True Self-Knowledge 3 

and the like. Remember that the performance 
of these tasks and the cultivation of these 
practices demand your best energies if you are 
to produce and bring forth worthy fruit in due 
season. 8 It is of little avail to excel in one 
practice, if you fail in the others. Go on with 
the examination and recall to mind your 
neglect of penitential exercises, your negligent 
attitude towards temptation and sin, as also 
your general disregard for the means of per 
fection. To reach the Promised Land you 
must weep with grief at the thought of the 
sins you have committed. Further, you must 
resist temptations to evil, and you must 
"advance from virtue tor \iirtue." Take to 
heart these principles and you will be able to 
form a true estimate of your negligence. 

Should you wish to pursue the subject and 
know yourself still better, take another look at 
yourself and ask whether your interior prompt 
ings tend towards pleasure, curiosity or vanity. 

There is an evident weakness for pleasures 

Cf. Ps. i, 3. 
9 Ps. Ixxxiii, 8. 

4 Holiness of Life 

of sense when a religious looks eagerly for 
what is sweet, for instance, savoury dishes. A 
similar weakness prevails when she is anxious 
for what is soft and comforting: fine clothing; 
or things gratifying to or soothing the 
flesh, as, for example, luxuries. You may 
know for a certainty that the handmaid of the 
Lord is a victim of inquisitiveness when she 
longs to fathom secrets, to gaze on pleasurable 
and beautiful objects, and to possess quaint 
and precious things. To seek the esteem and 
the good opinion of others, to look for the 
praise of men and to be anxious for the honors 
in their gift: the presence of any or all of 
these tendencies in a spouse of Christ shows 
a vain mind. O handmaid of Christ, shun 
these proclivities as poison, for they are the 
springs or founts of evil! 

You will complete the examination and un 
derstand yourself thoroughly if you discover 
whether you nourish or have nourished within 
your breast the malice of anger, envy, or sloth. 
Please pay attention to what I have to say. 

Anger or irascibility is surely nourished 

True Self-Knowledge 5 

in the heart when the thoughts, whisperings, 
spoken words, emotions, gestures or features 
of a religious are tinged with even the slightest 
coloring of animosity or indignation against 
another. Envy holds sway in a man when he 
feels joyful at another s misfortune o* is sad 
when better things come his neighbour s way. 
The envious man rejoices at another s troubles 
and is cast down when all goes well with him. 
Sloth cannot be mistaken. It is sloth that in-^ 
clines the religious to lukewarmness, drowsi- 
ness, unpunctuality, laziness, negligence, re- 
missness, dissoluteness, want of devotion, sad 
ness, or weariness. The spouse of God must 
have a holy horror of these things and avoid 
them as deadly poison. In them lurks the ruin 
of both soul and body. 

O handmaid, beloved of God, if perfect self- 
knowledge is your aim, reflect! "Enter into 
your heart and learn to value yourself at your 
proper worth. Discuss with yourself what you 
arc, what you were, what you ought to be, 
and what you can be. Note what you were 
originally, what you are now through your own 

6 Holiness of Life 

fault, what on the contrary good efforts ought 
to have made you, and what you still may be 
by correspondence with grace." "Listen, 
dear mother, to the Prophet David proposing 
himself as an example to you. I meditated in 
the night with my own heart and I was exer 
cised and I swept my spirit. n He meditated 
with his heart. Do you the same. He swept 
his spirit. Sweep yours. Cultivate this field. 
Fix your eyes upon your own self. Without 
doubt, if you keep up this exercise you will 
find the hidden treasure of priceless worth. 12 
A golden increase will come to you. More and 
more will your knowledge be widened and 
your wisdom strengthened. Be faithful to 
this exercise and the eye of your heart will be 
cleansed, the acumen of your mind developed, 
and your intelligence enlarged. If you do not 
know your own dignity and condition you can 
not value anything at its proper worth. One 

10 S. Bernard, The Inter. Dwelling, xxxvi. 

11 Ps. Ixxvi, 7. 

12 Cf. Matt, xiii, 44. 

True Self-Knowledge 7 

must first take thought upon one s own soul if 
the angelic and divine natures are to be cor 
rectly estimated and esteemed. If you are not 
able to reflect upon yourself, how will you 
be fitted to ^investigate the things above you? 
If you are not yet worthy to enter the first 
tabernacle, how will you have the effrontery 
to enter the Holy of Holies?" 13 

If you wish to be lifted up to the second and 
third heavens, 14 you must pass through the 
first, that is, you must pass through your own 
heart. How this is possible, and how it ought 
to be done, I have already explained. In ad 
dition, here is a piece of excellent and illumin 
ating advice from St. Bernard: "If you are 
earnestly desirous of uprightness and perfec 
tion examine continually and think well on 
your way of living. Notice how much you 
advance in virtue and how much you fall away. 
Examine into your conduct and the sentiments 
that inspire you. Look and see how like to 

18 Richard of St. Victor. 
14 Cf. II Cor. xii, 2. 

8 Holiness of Life 

God you are, and how unlike I How near 
to God, and alas, how far away from Him !" 15 
Oh, how dangerous a thing it is for a relig 
ious to wish to know much and yet not to know 
himself! How near death and perdition is 
that religious who is keenly interested in get 
ting to the bottom of things, or as a spiritual 
guide lives to solve the doubts and perplexities 
of distressed souls, yet does not know himself 
nor his own state ! 16 O my God, whence 
comes such blindness in a religious ? I will tell 
you. I have the reason at my finger-tips. A 
man whose mind is distraught in its anxieties 
for others has no memory for himself. His 
imagination is so clouded with pictures of 
other persons and things that he cannot form 
an idea of his own state. The allurements 
of unlawful passions so fascinate him that he 
never gets back to himself with a longing for 
interior sweetness and spiritual joy. Things 
of sense so possess his whole being, that he 
can no longer enter into himself, as the image 

15 S. Bernard, Meditations, Ch. v, 14. 
1C Cf. S. Bonav , Soliloquium, i, 2. 

True Self-Knowledge 9 

of God. Thus entirely wretched, not know 
ing himself, he knows nothing. 17 

Put everything else aside and learn well and 
bear in mind what you are. For such self- 
knowledge St. Bernard prayed : "God grant 
that I may know nothing if I do not know 
my own self." 18 

1 7 Cf. S. Aug., de Ordine I, 3. 

18 S. Bernard, Serm. de Diversis, I. 



To see personal defects aright a man must 
feel himself "humbled under the mighty hand 
of God." 19 I admonish you, therefore, O 
handmaid of Christ, the moment you realise 
your failings to humble yourself in abject hu 
mility and acknowledge to yourself your utter 
worthlessness. "Humility," says St. Bernard, 
"is a virtue which prompts a man possessing 
an exact knowledge of himself to estimate 
himself and his powers as dross." 20 Our 
holy Father St. Francis possessed this virtue. 
He considered himself the meanest of men. 
From his entrance into religion even unto the 
end he loved and cherished humility. Humil 
ity compelled St. Francis to leave the world. 

19 I Pet. v, 6. 

20 S. Bern., Degrees of Humility, i, a 


True Humility 1 1 

Humility drove him in beggar s garb through 
the streets of Assisi. Because he was humble 
he served the lepers. For the same reason, 
when preaching he made public his sins. His 
humility caused him to ask others to upbraid 
him for his faults. 21 

You ought to learn this virtue, dear mother, 
from the example of the Son of God. "Learn 
from me," He says, "because I am meek and 
humble of heart." 22 To excel in virtue and 
yet not to practise humility is simply to carry 
dust before the wind," 23 says St. Gregory. 
As "pride is the beginning of all sin," 24 so 
humility is the foundation of all virtue. Learn 
to be really humble and not, as the hypocrite, 
humble merely in appearance. Speaking of 
hypocrites Ecclesiasticus says : "There is one 
that humbleth himself wickedly and his interior 
is full of deceit." 25 "The truly humble man," 
says St. Bernard, "does not desire to be adver- 

21 S. Bonav , Life of St. Francis, Ch. ii. 

22 Matt, xi, 29. 

23 S. Greg., I Homil. on the Gospel, vii, 4. 

24 Eccl. x, 15. 

25 Eccl. xix, 23. 

12 Holiness of Life 

tised as a humble man, but wishes to be reputed 
and considered worthless." 2G So, Reverend 
Mother, if you wish to be perfectly humble 
you must advance by three stages. 

The first stage is thought upon God, as the 
Author of all good. We must say to ourselves, 
"O Lord, Thou hast wrought all our works 
in us." 27 Because this is really so you must 
attribute every good work to Him and not to 
yourself. Bear in mind that "you in your 
own might and in the strength of your own 
hand" 28 have not attained to all the good things 
you possess. "It is the Lord who made us and 
not we ourselves. " i29 Such thoughts com 
pletely upset the pride of those who say : "Our 
mighty hand and not the Lord hath done all 
these things." 30 It was pride such as this 
which caused Lucifer to be expelled from the 
glory of heaven. Lucifer would not realise 
that he was made from nothing, but taking de- 

26 S. Bernard, Sermons on the Canticle, xvi, 10. 

27 Is. xxvi, 12. 

28 Cf. Deut. viii, 17. 

29 Cf. Ps. xcix, 3. 
80 Deut. xxxii, 27. 

True Humility 13 

light in his comeliness and beauty, and remark 
ing how "every precious stone was his cover 
ing," 31 exalted himself in his pride. And be 
cause "pride goeth before a fall," 32 in the 
twinkling of an eye he was hurled headlong 
from his pride of place down to the lowest 
depths of abject misery. Thus the most 
exalted of angels became the most depraved of 

Oh, how many children of Lucifer there are 
to-day, men and women, apes of Lucifer! 
Sons and daughters of pride whom God in His 
patience endures! "Pride," says St. Bernard, 
"is less hateful in the rich than in the poor." 3S 
The handmaid of Christ, therefore, must al 
ways practise humility, since she is to fill the 
place vacated by a rejected angel. It matters 
little whether the creature be an angel or a man, 
humility alone renders the one and the other 
pleasing to God. If you are not humble, do 
not imagine for a moment that your virginity 
is pleasing to God. Mary would not have been 

81 Cf. Ezech. xxviii, 13. 

82 Cf. Prov. xxix, 23. 

33 S. Bernard, Sermon liv, 8. 

14 Holiness of Life 

made the Mother of God if she had been a 
proud woman. "I make bold to say," says 
St. Bernard, "that without humility not even 
Mary s virginity would have pleased God." 34 
Humility is a great virtue. Without it not 
only is there no virtue, but that which might 
have been virtue is vitiated and turns to pride. 
The second stage is the remembrance of 
Christ. You must remember that Christ was 
humiliated even to a most ignominious death. 35 
So humiliated was He that He was reputed a 
leper. Hence Isaias said : "We have thought 
Him as it were, a leper, and as one struck by 
God." 36 Christ was humiliated to such an 
extent that in His day nothing was considered 
more vile than He. "In humiliation," contin 
ues the prophet, "His judgment was taken 
away." 37 The burden of the prophet s thought 
is : So great was His humility, and so lowly 
did He make Himself that no one could form 
a correct judgment of Him, no one could be- 

** S. Bernard, Horn. I in S. Luke, i, 26. 
Cf. Phil, ii, 8. 
86 Is. liii, 4. 
" Is. liii, 8. 

True Humility 15 

lieve that He was God. If then "Our Lord 
and Master" Himself said: "The servant 
is not greater than his Lord, the disciple is not 
above his master," 88 so you, if you are the 
handmaid of Christ and His disciple, must be 
lowly, prepared to be despised and humbled. 
What is more contemptible in God s eyes than 
the religious who with a humble garment covers 
a proud heart! Of what use is that Chris 
tian who sees His Lord humbled and despised, 
yet himself "exalts his heart and walks in 
great matters and in wonderful things above 
himself." 39 The Highest God became as the 
least of all, and the immense God became a 
little creature, yet a filthy worm, a mere hand 
maid of Christ, "exalts and magnifies her 
self." 40 \Yhat could be more detestable! 
What could be more deserving of punishment ! 
Of such the Blessed St. Augustine exclaims in 
this way: "O ye bags of carrion, why do you 
swell yourselves out so? O ye putrid festers, 

88 John xiii, 16; Matt, x, 24. 
30 Cf. Ps. cxxx, i. 
Cf. Ps. ix, 18. 

1 6 Holiness of Life 

why are you puffed up ? How dare the mem 
bers of a body be proud when the Head is 
humble?" 41 A forceful way of emphasising 
the unseemliness of such behaviour. 

The third stage by which you must advance 
if you would become really humble is by close 
acquaintanceship with your own self. You 
become acquainted with yourself when you 
realise "whence you have come and whither 
you are going." 42 Reflect then, whence you 
come and take it to heart that you are the slime 
of the earth. You have wallowed in sin, and 
are an exile from the happy kingdom of Heaven. 
Thoughts such as these will quell the spirit of 
pride and drive it away somewhat. Thoughts 
like these will persuade you to cry out with 
the three youths mentioned in the book of 
Daniel : "We are brought low in all the earth, 
this day for our sins." 43 

Take now the other point. Whither are 
you going? You are slowly making to- 

41 S. Aug., Serm. 304. 

42 S. Bern., Meditations i, I, 

43 Dan. iii, 37- 

True Humility 17 

wards corruption and elemental ashes. "Dust 
thou art and into dust shalt thou return." 44 
"Why be proud, you who are but dust and 
ashes?" 45 To-day here, to-morrow gone! 48 
In good health to-day, a mass of ailments to 
morrow ! Wise to-day, possibly an idiot to 
morrow ! Rich, and rich in virtue as you read 
these lines, to-morrow it may easily be said 
that you find yourself a miserable wretched 
beggar! Show me the Christian who will dare 
to extol himself when he realises that he is 
hemmed in on all sides by so many miseries 
and possible misfortunes! 

Learn, consecrated virgins, to have a humble 
mind and to walk with a humble mien. 
Be humble in your tastes and ways and dress. 
It is humility, remember, that softens God s 
anger and renders us fit subjects for His holy 
grace. The greater thou art," remarks Eccle- 
siasticus, "the more humble thyself in all things, 
and thou shalt find grace before God." 47 This 

44 Gen. iii, 19. 

45 Cf. Kcclcsiastietis x, 9. 
4 Cf. ibid., x, 12. 

47 Ecclcsiasticus iii, 20. 

1 8 Holiness of Life 

is how Mary found favour with God. Her 
own words are: "He hath regarded the hu 
mility of His handmaid." 48 There is no rea 
son for surprise. Humility prepares the way 
for God s grace and frees the mind from all 
vanity. It is for this reason that St. Augustine 
says : "The less the pride, the more the 
love." 49 Just as the waters crowd into the 
valleys, so the graces of the Holy Spirit fill the 
humble. And to continue the comparison, the 
greater the incline, the quicker the water flows, 
so the more the heart bends under humility, the 
nearer we are to God. Thus it is easy for the 
man humble of heart to approach near to God 
and to beg His Grace. "The prayer of him 
that humbleth himself," Ecclesiasticus tells us, 
"shall pierce the clouds : and till it come nigh [to 
the Most High] he will not be comforted." 50 
For "the Lord will do the will of them that fear 
Him, and He will hear their prayers." 51 
Dear children of God and handmaids of 

Luke i, 48 

S. Aug., De Civit. Dei, VIII. 12. 

60 Ecclesiasticus xxxv, 21. 

51 Ps. cxliv, 19. 

True Humility 19 

Christ, be always humble. "Never allow pride 
to dominate your hearts." 52 You have in 
Jesus Christ, Our Lord, a humble Master. 
Your mistress, Our Blessed Lady, and Queen 
of us all, was humble. Be humble because St. 
Francis, your Father, was humble. Be hum 
ble because your Mother, St. Clare, was a 
model of humility. Be humble almost to ex 
cess, and let patience be the test of your hu 
mility, for humility is perfected by patience. 
Indeed there is no humility without patience. 
Listen to what St. Augustine says : "It is 
easy to place a veil over the head and to 
cover the eyes, to wear poor and wretched 
clothes, and to walk with the head cast down, 
but patience it is that proves a man to be really 
humble." 53 "In thy humiliation," says Eccle- 
siasticus, "keep patience." 54 

Alas, and I speak with sorrow, there are 
many of us who would lead proud lives in the 
cloister, yet we were lowly enough in the 

" Cf. Tob. iv, 14- 
63 S. Aug., Epist., 17. 
04 Ecclcsiasticus ii, 4. 

2O Holiness of Life 

world. St. Bernard realised this, and voiced 
his complaint: "It grieves me very much to 
see many who trod beneath their feet the pomps 
of the world, come into the school of humility 
the better to learn the ways of pride. Under 
the aegis of a mild and humble master they 
wax arrogant. They become more impatient 
in the cloister than they were in the world. 
What is still worse, very many will not suffer 
themselves to be held of little worth in the 
house of God, although in their own circle they 
could not have been anything but lowly, nay 
even contemptible." 55 

I recommend you, therefore, dear mother, 
to be solicitous for your daughters. Teach 
your daughters who have consecrated them 
selves to God, to guard their virginity by hu 
mility, and to keep themselves humble by the 
practice of their virginity. Virginity asso 
ciated with humility is like a precious stone in 
a gold setting," says St. Bernard. "What is 
there so beautiful as the union of virginity 
with humility! How indescribably pleasing 
55 S. Bern. Homil. iv, 10. 

True Humility 21 

to God is the soul in which humility enhances 
virginity and virginity embellishes humil 
ity." 50 

Lastly, dear mother, please take the follow 
ing advice from me, your brother. It will 
please you. Avoid a proud sister as you 
would avoid a viper. Keep dear of the arro 
gant nun as though she were a devil. Look 
upon the companionship of the proud as some 
thing that is a virulent poison. Why? I will 
tell you why. A rather clever writer has left 
us the following pen picture of a proud man. 
"The proud man is unbearable. He is too 
loud in dress, pompous in his bearing, stiff- 
necked, unnaturally harsh of countenance, 
stern eyed, ever on the look out for the first 
places, wishful to outstrip his betters, boastful 
in everything, and devoid of all idea of respect 
and proper reverence." 57 

"He that hath fellowship with the proud," 
says Ecclesiasticus, "shall put on pride." 58 O 

Bfl Homil. Missus cst, i, 5. 

67 Prosper, Contcmp. Life, viii, I. 

cs Ecclesiasticus xiii, I. 

22 Holiness of Life 

dear child of God, spouse of Christ, and virgin 
consecrated to the Lord, if you would avoid 
the risk of falling into the ways of the proud, 
shun the companionship of the proud. 



Poverty is another of the virtues necessary 
if we would be holy unto perfection. Our 
Lord bears witness to this in the Gospel of 
St. Matthew: "If thou wilt be perfect, go 
sell what thou hast and give to the poor." 50 
Since the fulness of evangelical perfection is 
found in poverty, no one should imagine that 
he has scaled the summits of perfection if he 
has not become an adept in the practice of 
evangelical poverty. Hugh of St. Victor tells 
us that "no matter how many practices of per 
fection are found among religious, unless there 
is a love for poverty their life cannot be con 
sidered fully perfect." 00 

Two motives may be suggested capable of 
impelling not Hierely a religious, but even an 

88 Matt, xix, 21. 

00 Cf. Expos. Reg. S. Aug., i Sq. 

24 Holiness of Life 

ordinary man to a love of poverty. The first 
is the irreproachable example of Our Divine 
Lord. The second is the priceless divine 

Let us take the first motive. The love and 
the example of Our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, 
ought to excite in you, His handmaid, a love of 
poverty. Christ was born poor, lived poor, 
and died poor. Realise and bear in mind that 
Christ gave you this wonderful example of 
poverty in order to induce you to become a 
friend of poverty. Our Lord Jesus Christ was 
so poor at birth that He had neither shel 
ter, nor clothing, nor food. In lieu of 
a house He had to be content with a 
stable. A few wretched rags did duty for 
clothes. For food He had milk from the Vir 
gin s breast. It was meditation on this poverty 
of Christ that roused the heart of St. Paul and 
caused him to exclaim : "You know the grace 
of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that being rich He 
became poor for our sakes, that through His 
poverty we might be rich." 01 St. Bernard, 
61 Cf. II Cor. viii, 9. 

Perfect Poverty 25 

speaking of this same poverty says: "An 
eternal and copious abundance of riches existed 
in Heaven. Poverty, however, was not to be 
found there. It abounded and was superabun 
dant on earth. Alas ! man did not know its 
worth. The Son of God, though, loved pov 
erty, and desired it, and came down from 
Heaven and took it as his own possession in 
order to make it precious in our eyes." 62 

All His life long, Jesus Christ Our Lord was 
an example of poverty. Let me tell you, O 
holy virgin, and all you who profess poverty, 
let me tell you, how poor the Son of God 
and King of Angels was whilst He lived 
in this world. He was so poor that oftentimes 
He did not know which way to turn for a lodg 
ing. Frequently, He and His Apostles were 
compelled to wander out of the city and sleep 
where they could. It is with reference to such 
a happening that St. Mark the Evangelist 
writes: "Having viewed all things round 
about, when now the eventide was come, He 
went out to Bethania with the twelve." 

fla S. Bern. Serm. for Christmas Eve I, 5. 

26 Holiness of Life 

These words 63 St. Bede explains as follows : 
"After looking all around and making enquir 
ies as to whether any one was prepared to give 
Him hospitality for He was so poor that no 
one looked upon Him with pleasure He could 
not find a dwelling open to Him in the town." G4 
In similar strain St. Matthew writes: "The 
foxes have holes and the birds of the air nests ; 
but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His 
head." 65 

Added to the poverty of His birth and life 
was the poverty of the death of the King of 
Angels. "All you" who have taken the vow 
of poverty, "stop and consider for a mo 
ment" 6C> how poor the Lord of All was made 
for your sakes. Look at His poverty as He 
dies. His executioners stripped and robbed 
Him of everything He possessed. He was 
robbed of His clothes, I repeat it, when the ex 
ecutioners "divided His garments between 

63 Mark xi, n. 

64 Cf. S. Bede, Vol. V. p. 125. 

65 Matt, viii, 20; cf. Expos. S. Bonav. 

66 Lament, i, 12. 

Perfect Poverty 27 

them, and for His vesture cast lots." 7 He 
was robbed of body and soul, when as He suc 
cumbed to His most bitter sufferings His soul 
was separated from His body in the pangs of 
death. His persecutors deprived and robbed 
Him of His divine glory when they refused 
"to glorify Him as God," 68 and instead treated 
Him as a common criminal. "They have 
stripped me of my glory," 9 complains Holy 
Job in a moment of prophecy. Drawing a 
lesson from the compelling example of Christ s 
poverty, St. Bernard writes: "Think of the 
poor man Christ! There is no house for Him 
at His birth, so they lay Him in a manger, be 
tween an ox and an ass. Look at Him 
wrapped in wretched swaddling clothes! 
Think of Him a fugitive on the rough road to 
Egypt! Think of Him riding on an ass! 
Think of His poverty as He hangs on the 
cross." 70 

07 Cf. Matt, xxvii, 35; cf. Ps. xxi, 19. 

c Cf. Rom. i, 21. 

99 Cf. Job xix, 9. 

T " S. Bern. Serm. Easter III, I. 

28 Holiness of Life 

After realising that the God of Gods, the 
Lord of the World, the King of Heaven, the 
only begotten Son of God has borne the bur 
den of such dire poverty, where is the Chris 
tian, where the obstinate and benighted reli 
gious who still loves riches and despises pov 
erty? "It is a great, a heinous crime that a 
vile and contemptible worm, for whom the God 
of Majesty and Lord of All became poor, 
should desire to be rich." So says St. Ber 
nard, and he adds: "Let the godless pagan 
covet riches. Let the Jew who has received 
the promise of the land look for the fulfilment 
of the promise and for the possession of the 
land." 71 But the maiden consecrated to God, 
the maiden who lives among Christ s poor and 
whose profession is poverty, how can she look 
for the riches of earth? How, pray, can a 
daughter of the poor man of Assisi, a maiden 
who has promised to imitate the poverty of her 
holy Mother, St. Clare, search for earthly 
riches ? 

Beyond all measure of belief, dear Mother, 

71 S. Bern. Serm. All Saints I. 7- 

Perfect Poverty 29 

are we in our avarice put to shame. Although 
professing poverty, we have bartered away 
poverty for avarice. Although the Son of 
God "became poor for our sakes," 72 we are 
solicitous for what is not allowed us. We try 
to obtain what the Rule strictly forbids. 

In commending perfect, evangelical poverty 
to you, let me insist on the following well- 
known fact : The more you are attached to the 
poverty you profess, and the more you practise 
evangelical poverty, the more will you abound 
in spiritual and temporal treasures. If you go 
the contrary way, if you set no value on the 
poverty you have made your own by profes 
sion, then of a certainty will you experience 
most constant spiritual and temporal need. 
That one time poor woman, Mary the Mother 
of the poverty-stricken Jesus, sang: "He hath 
filled the hungry with good things and the rich 
he hath sent empty away." 73 The most holy 
Psalmist expressed the same thought : The 
rich have wanted, and have suffered hunger: 

72 1 1 Cor. viii, 9. 

Luke i, 53- 

30 Holiness of Life 

but they that seek the Lord shall not be de 
prived of any good." 74 Did you never read, 
did you never hear what Christ the Lord said 
of poverty to His Apostles? It occurs in the 
Gospel of St. Matthew. "Be not solicitous, 
therefore, saying, what shall we eat, or, what 
shall we drink. Your Father knoweth that 
you have need of all these things." 7r> Here 
is something else He said. It is from St. 
Luke. "When I sent you without purse, and 
scrip, and shoes, did you want anything? But 
they said: Nothing." 76 

Living among hard-hearted unbelieving 
Jews, Christ did not find it difficult to attend to 
His disciples wants. Is it any wonder then, 
that He is able to supply the wants of the 
Friars Minor, and the Poor Ladies, who, liv 
ing among a faithful and Christian people, pro 
fess and imitate a poverty akin to that of the 
Apostles ? "Cast, therefore, all your care upon 
Him, for He hath care of you." 77 

74 Ps. xxx, ii. 

75 Matt, vi, 31-32. 

76 Luke xxii, 35-36. 
77 1 Pet. v, 7. 

Perfect Poverty 31 

Since the fatherly care and solicitude of 
God for us is so intense, should not our anx 
ious longing for temporal things cause us to 
marvel ? Should it not astound us that we are 
eaten up with desire for vain and empty things? 
Why, when God occupies Himself with our 
welfare, do we trouble ourselves so about 
things of wealth and things of little concern? 
I can find no other explanation than that we 
have become avaricious. Avarice, avarice, the 
mother of confusion and damnation, has taken 
hold of us. We may assign no other reason 
than that we have turned away our affections 
from God, our Salvation. 78 The fire of Di 
vine Love has become extinguished in us. 
We have cooled. Love for God has frozen 
within us. If we were really fervent and had 
really stripped ourselves of earthly things we 
should follow the poverty-stricken Christ. 70 
Men when they become excessively hot are ac 
customed to strip themselves of their clothes. 
The proof of our want of love and of our 

78 Cf. Dcut. xxxii, 15. 

79 S. Jcr. Ep. cxxv, 20. 

32 Holiness of Life 

great coldness is the attraction which worldly 
goods possess for us. 

O My God, how can we be so harsh with 
Christ ! "He went forth from His own coun 
try," from Heaven, "from His own kinsfolk," 
the Angels, "from the house of His Father," 80 
from His Father s bosom, and for us became 
poor, abject and despised ! Yet we are unwill 
ing to give up a wretched and noisome world. 
We leave the world in body, it is true, but in 
heart, and mind, and inclination we give our 
selves up to and are wholly absorbed by the 

O blessed servant of God, recall the poverty 
of Our Lord Jesus Christ, poor for our sake! 
Impress on your heart the poverty of your 
Father, the poor little man Francis. Meditate 
on the poverty of your holy Mother St. Clare. 
Cleave to poverty and practise it zealously and 
courageously. Embrace the Lady Poverty 
and pray God that for Our Lord s sake you 
may never wish to love anything else under 
heaven save poverty. Keep your heart free 
80 Gen. xii, i. 

Perfect Poverty 33 

from love of honours, temporal things, and 
riches. Strive diligently to live up to the holy 
poverty you have vowed. It is a waste of 
energy to possess and to love riches. To have 
one s heart set on riches and yet to be poor 
is a dangerous business. To be rich and yet 
not to love one s riches is too wearisome. The 
advantage, the security, the delight of life and 
the act of perfect virtue is neither to possess 
riches nor to have any fondness for riches. 
Therefore, Our Lord s example and counsel 
ought to prompt and excite every Christian to 
love poverty. 

O blessed poverty, which makes those who 
love it beloved of God and secure even in this 
world ! "For him who has nothing in the 
world on which his heart is set, there exists 
nothing of the world to fear." 81 So says St. 
Gregory. In the lives of the Fathers we read 
that there was a certain poor monk who owned 
a mat. At night he put half of it under him 
and the other half he used as a coverlet. Once 
when it was very cold, the superior of the mon- 

81 S. Greg. Moral. Book X, xxi, 39. 

34 Holiness of Life 

astery heard the poor monk praying: "I give 
thanks, O my God," he prayed, "because there 
are very many rich men in prison, many in 
irons, many in the stocks, but I like an em 
peror and lord may stretch my legs and go 
whither I wish." 82 There now, I have done 
with the first point, the example of poverty. 

The second motive to inspire a love of pov 
erty is the promise, the priceless promise of 
Christ. O good Jesus, "rich unto all," 83 who 
can worthily realise, tell, or write of that mar 
vellous heavenly glory which Thou hast prom 
ised to give to Thy poor? The practice of 
voluntary poverty earns the reward of the 
beatific vision, 84 and the right to enter into the 
palace of the Power of God. 85 Votaries of 
voluntary poverty merit a place in the eternal 
dwellings. They have a right to enter God s 
brilliantly illuminated mansions. They become 
citizens of the city built and fashioned by God. 
Thou, O my God, with Thy own Blessed 

82 Life of John the Almsg., xx. 

83 Rom. x, 19. 

84 S. Greg. Horn., II Book, xxxvii, I. 

85 Cf. Ps. Ixx, 16. 

Perfect Poverty 35 

Mouth hast promised them this eternal reward 
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is 
the Kingdom of Heaven." 8rt The Kingdom 
of Heaven, O my Lord Jesus Christ, is noth 
ing else than Thou, Thyself, Who art "the 
King of Kings and Lord of Lords." 87 As 
reward, as the price of their labour, as a com 
plete and perfect joy, Thou wilt give to Thy 
voluntary poor even the possession of Thyself. 
They will rejoice in possessing Thee. They 
will find delight in Thee. They will, at last, 
find complete satiety in Thee. For "the poor 
shall eat and shall be filled ; and they shall 
praise the Lord that seek Him; their hearts 
shall live for ever and ever." 88 Amen. 

80 Malt, v, 6. 
8 " I Tim. vi, 15. 
88 Ps. xxi, 27. 



"In the multitude of words there shall not 
want sin." 89 I quote from the Book of Pro 
verbs. Obviously, a religious aiming to per 
fect his ways, will find silence a very helpful 
virtue. To speak seldom, and then but briefly, 
prevents sin. Where there is too much talk, 
God is in one way or another offended, and 
reputations suffer. On the other hand let only 
the virtue of silence come into its own and 
people get their due. If we deal fairly with 
one another, and practise the virtue of justice, 
we establish the bond of peace. This means 
that where silence is observed the fruits of 
peace are gathered as easily as fruit is gathered 
from a heavily laden tree. 

Of all places in the world peace is essential 
in the cloister. Silence is of paramount im- 

9 Prov. x, 19. 


Silence 37 

portance in the life of a religious because by 
means of silence peace of mind and body is 
preserved. Dilating on the virtue of silence 
Isaias the prophet said: "The work of justice 
shall be peace, and the service of justice shall 
be quietness" !l or silence. It is as though he 
said : The nature of silence is such that it 
acts as a preservative of the godly virtue jus 
tice. It encourages peaceful ways and en 
ables men to live in peace and harmony. We 
may lay it down as a principle that unless a man 
diligently "sets a guard to his tongue," 91 he 
must lose all the graces he has acquired and 
necessarily and quickly fall into evil ways. 

"The tongue," wrote the Apostle St. James, 
"is indeed a little member and boasteth great 
things." It is "a fire, a world of iniquity." 2 
According to the commentators, St. James 
meaning is that almost all evil deeds are inspired 
or perpetrated by the tongue. 

I shall now briefly enumerate for you, dear 

90 Is. xxxii, 17; cf. S. Greg. Moral. VII, xvii, 58; S. 
Bern. Epis. Ixxxix, 2. 
81 Cf. Ps. xxxviii, 24. Ps. cxl, 3. 
92 James iii, 5, 6. 

38 Holiness of Life 

sister, the sins into which we are liable to fall 
if we do not keep a strict guard over the tongue. 
A loose and glib tongue easily becomes 
the vehicle of blasphemy and murmuring. 
The tongue that wags will be guilty of perjury, 
lying and detraction. The sin of flattery is 
easy to it. So too, cursing, abusive language, 
quarrelsome words, and words which mock 
ingly contemn virtue and entice to evil deeds. 
Scandalous gossip, vain boasting, the divulging 
of secrets, idle threats, rash promises, frequent 
and silly chattering and scurrilous conversa 
tion : all these sins come lightly, smoothly, and 
easily from an unguarded tongue. 

To be unable "to hold her tongue" ought to 
make an ordinary woman blush. When the 
woman is a woman consecrated to God, a 
woman who knows the magnitude of the evils 
following on too easy a use of the tongue, then 
that woman s life is marred by a gross blemish. 
I have no hesitation in saying that it is all to 
no purpose for a religious to take pride in the 
virtue which characterizes her, if by too much 
talking she observes the rule of silence only in 

Silence 39 

the breach. "If any man think himself to be 
religious, not bridling his tongue but deceiving 
his own heart, this man s religion is vain." 3 

O amiable spouses of Jesus Christ, let us 
look up to Mary, Our Lady and Mother. All 
virtues are reflected in Mary. Helped by the 
Holy Gospels let us look upon her and learn 
how to keep silence. St. Luke records that 
Mary spoke seldom and with but few people. 
From him we learn that twice she spoke with 
the Angel, 04 twice with her Divine Son, 95 
twice with her cousin St. Elisabeth, 90 and once 
to the waiters at the Marriage Feast. 97 
Thought on Our Lady s spare use of words 
will do us good. It will cause us to blush. 
We are too talkative. With us it is talk, talk, 
talk, yet all the time silence is the great and 
useful thing. 

Silence begets compunction of heart, and 
here is its first useful purpose. When a man 

98 James i, 26. 

84 Luke i, 34 & 38. 

8G Luke ii, 48; John ii, 3. 

9a Luke i, 40 & 46 sqq. 

97 John ii, 5. 

40 Holiness of Life 

is silent he falls to thinking and brooding over 
his manner of life. 98 This enables him 
quickly to see his many defects and the little 
progress he has made in the spiritual life, and 
soon compunction holds him captive. David 
tells us this: "I was dumb and was humbled 
and kept silence from good things : and my sor 
row was renewed." " 

Silence has another advantage. It shows 
that man belongs to a better world. If a man 
lives in Germany and yet does not speak Ger 
man, we naturally conclude that he is not a 
German. So too, we rightly conclude that a 
man who does not give himself up to worldly 
conversation is not of the world, although he 
lives therein. The argument is conclusive. 
St. John the Evangelist, quoting St. John the 
Baptist, has told us : "He that is of the earth, 
of the earth he is, and of the earth he 
speaketh." 10 

The religious who would cultivate the habit 

88 Cf. Ps. cxviii, 59. 

89 Ps. xxxviii, 3. 

100 John iii, 31. Cf. S. Bern. Epis. Ixxviii, 4. 

Silence 4 1 

of silence cannot do better than shun the com 
pany of his fellows and lead the life of a soli 
tary. When he has lifted himself out of him 
self, God should be his only companion and 
comforter. A solitary and quiet life should 
be his aim. To have God as his companion 
should suffice. He should look for no com 
fort from, nor companionship with, men. "He 
shall sit solitary," avoiding the companionship 
of his fellows, "and shall hold his peace," 101 
and meditating on heavenly things lift himself 
above himself and revel in the sweetness of 
heavenly delights. 

To be perfectly virtuous a religious must 
practise silence. Silence is essential to the 
spouses of Jesus Christ and to women conse 
crated to God. Religious women should be 
particularly sparing with their words. Their 
words should be "precious." 102 Talking 
should cause them to blush. They should 
never speak except in extreme necessity. St. 
Jerome may be quoted very aptly : "Let the 

101 Lament, iii, 28. 

102 Cf. I Kings iii, I. 

42 Holiness of Life 

words of a virgin be few and seemly, and pre 
cious rather by their reticence than by their 
eloquence." 103 One of the great philosophers 
of old taught in the same strain : "To be per 
fect I would counsel you to speak but little 
and only on rare occasions. When a rare oc 
casion occurs, remember too, to speak scarcely 
above a whisper." 104 O you talkative girls, 
you chatterboxes, you garrulous nuns, I have 
a story for you which, if you take it to heart, 
will teach you what you must do if you would 
learn to keep silence. 

In the lives of the Fathers 105 it is related 
that a certain abbot, Agathon by name, kept a 
stone in his mouth to prevent his talking. For 
three years he continued the practice until at 
last he learned how to hold his tongue. Take 
this lesson to heart. Tie a stone to your 
tongue. Fasten your tongue to your palate. 
"Put thy ringers on thy mouth" 106 and learn to 
keep silent. Remember always that it ill be- 

* S. Jer., Epis. i, 19. 

104 Seneca, Ep. xl. 

lo^Migne Patr. V, Book iv, 7. 

108 Judges xviii, 19. 

Silence 43 

comes a woman vowed to Christ to look for 
conversation with any one except her Spouse 
Jesus Christ. 

Talk, therefore, only on rare occasions, and 
let your conversations be short. Use but few 
words. Speak in fear and trembling and in 
all modesty. Above all "scarcely ever speak 
in your own cause," 107 in your own defence. 
Cover your face with a veil of bashful modesty. 
Sew your lips together with the threads of rule 
and discipline. Let your words be few, for 
"in the multiplicity of words there shall not 
want sin." 108 Let your conversation be use 
ful, modest and humble. Never speak an idle 
word, localise "every idle word that men shall 
speak, they shall render an account for it in the 
day of judgment." 109 Speaking of idle words 
it may be noticed with St. Gregory that "an 
idle word is one that the speaker uses without 
necessity or with no advantage to the 
hearer." no 

107 Cf. Ecclcsiasticus xxxii, 10. 
i 8 Prov. x, 19. 

109 Matt, xii, 36. 

110 S. Greg., Moral., VII, xvii, 58. 

44 Holiness of Life 

It is always better and more useful to be 
silent than to speak. As witness of which 
truth let me quote a saying of Xenocrates, 
one of the philosophers of old: "I have often 
repented because I spoke, but never have I been 
sorry that I held my peace." in 

111 Val. Max. vii Diet. Fact. Memorab., 2. 



The religious whose heart is cold and tepid 
leads a wretched and useless life ; nay, the tepid 
religious, the religious who does not pray fer 
vently and assiduously, scarcely lives at all. 
His body lives, but in the sight of God it har 
bors a dead soul. It follows then, that pray 
erful habits are essential if the spouse of 
Christ is to achieve her desires and advance to 
wards perfection. The practice of prayer is a 
virtue of such efficacy that of itself it can com 
pletely subdue all the cunning devices of its 
implacable enemy, the devil. It is the devil and 
the devil alone who prevents the servant of 
God from soaring above herself even unto the 
heavens. There is, then, no reason for sur 
prise that the religious who is not devoted to 
the practice of constant prayer succumbs fre 
quently to temptation. 


46 Holiness of Life 

St. Isidore realised this truth, for he says: 
"Prayer is the remedy when temptations to sin 
rage in the heart. Whenever you are tempted 
to sin, pray, and pray earnestly. Frequent 
prayer renders powerless the assaults of 
vice." 112 Our Lord gives similar advice in 
the Gospel : "Watch ye and pray that ye 
enter not into temptation." 113 Devout prayer 
is so powerful that it enables a man to win 
whatever he wants. Winter and summer, 
when times are stormy, when times are fair, 
night and day, Sunday and Monday, in days 
of health, in the hour of illness, in youth and 
old age, standing, sitting and walking, in choir 
and out of choir: in a word, never need the 
efficacy of prayer fail. Indeed, at times, more 
than the very world itself its worth may be 
gained by one hour of prayer. By one little 
devout prayer it is possible for a man to gain 

I shall now discuss the nature of prayer. 
Probably, in this matter I am more in need of 

112 S. Isid. Ill Sent, viii, I. 

113 Matt, xxvi, 41. 

The Practice of Prayer 47 

information than you are, still in so far as the 
Lord inspires me, I shall tell you in what way 
and manner you should pray. 

I would have you know, O worthy handmaid 
of God, that three conditions are requisite for 
perfect prayer. When you settle down to 
pray, close your senses to every sensation, and 
with your body and soul absolutely intent on 
what you are doing, ponder in silence with a 
sorrowful and contrite heart on all your past, 
present, and possible wretched efforts. Reflect 
seriously, in the first place, on the many grave 
sins you have committed from day to day. 
Call to mind how you have neglected so many 
opportunities for doing good opportunities 
that came your way since your entrance into 
religion, opportunities that were given you be 
fore you took the veil. Think of the many and 
wonderful graces you have lost. 114 Once you 
were near to God. Realise how to-day, sin 
keeps you far from Him. Bring home to your 
self the fact that you have become unlike to 
God. Yet there was a day when you were con- 

114 Cf. St. Bonavcnturc, The Threefold Way, II, 2. 

48 Holiness of Life 

formed to His very image and likeness. Your 
soul was once beautiful. To-day it is ugly and 
foul. Think on these facts. 

Now turn your thoughts on what the future 
has in store for you. Whither will sin even 
tually "lead you"? "To the very gates of 
hell!" Remember that there is "a day of" 
dreadful "judgment." What is likely to be 
fall? Do not forget "the eternal fires of 
hell." 115 How will your sins be punished? 

Your reflection should move you to strike 
your breast with the humble publican. 116 
"Groaning in heart you should cry out your 
sorrow" 117 with the Prophet David and in 
company with Mary Magdalen you should 
"wash the feet" of the Lord "with your 
tears." 118 There should be no end to your 
tears, for beyond all bounds have you offended 
your sweet Jesus by your sins. 

St. Isidore gives similar advice. "When 

115 S. Bern. Medit. 

116 Luke xviii, 13. 

117 Cf. Ps. xxxvii, 9. 

118 Cf. Luke vii, 38. 

The Practice of Prayer 49 

we pray to God, we should pray with groaning 
and weeping. This is possible if, when at 
prayer, we remember the sins we have com 
mitted, their exceptional gravity, and the aw 
ful torments we have deserved to suffer on 
account of our sins. Fear of those dread tor 
ments will enable us to pray with genuine sor 
row." 119 

In such wise should we commence our 
prayer. We should begin our prayer with 
tears that spring from sincere regret and 
earnest fear. 

Thanksgiving is the second requisite. Bless 
ings received from God should call forth the 
humble thanks of the spouse of Christ. So too, 
should she thank God in all humility for the 
benefits yet to accrue to her. In his epistle 
to the Colossians St. Paul lays stress on this 
part of prayer: "Be instant," he says, "in 
prayer, watching in it with thanksgiving." 12 
Nothing makes a man so worthy of God s gifts 
as the constant offering of thanks to God for 

119 III Sent, vii, 5- 

120 Col. iv, 2. 

50 Holiness of Life 

gifts received. Writing to Aurelius, St. 
Augustine touches on this matter. "What 
better thoughts," he asks, "can we have in our 
minds, what better sentiments in our hearts 
than those of thanksgiving to God? What 
better words are given us to utter or to write 
than Deo Gratias ? The idea of due thanks 
giving could not be expressed in fewer words. 
What other words could give greater pleasure ? 
No other two words are so full of meaning. 
What more profitable than their use?" 121 

You must meditate, you must pray with a 
grateful heart. Thank God because He made 
you. Thank Him because He raised you to 
the Christian state. Thank God because He 
has forgiven you so many sins. Thank Him 
because, had He not taken care of you, you 
would have fallen much lower. 122 Thanksgiv 
ing is due from you because God has taken 
you out of the w r orld. Thanks to Him you 
will die in religion. You should thank God 
because He has chosen you to live the life of a 

121 S. Aug. Ep. xli. 

122 Cf. S. Bern. Serm. ii in 6 Sund. after Pent. 

The Practice of Prayer 5 i 

religious in the highest and most perfect re 
ligious state. You have no worry nor anxiety. 
He keeps you from harm, comforts you, and 
gives you all that you need. 

Further motives for continual thanksgiving 
on your part arise from the fact that God took 
to Himself a human nature and became man 
for your sake. It was for you that He was 
circumcised and baptised. For you He lived 
His poor life. For you He went poorly 
clothed, was humbled and despised. All His 
fastings, hungers, thirst, labours, and fatigues 
He endqred for your sake. For you He wept. 
Love for you prompted Him to give you His 
Most Holy Body to eat and His Most Precious 
Blood to drink. In anguish for you He bled 
from His very pores in the Garden. For you 
He was struck in the face, spat upon, be 
fooled and scourged. For love of you He 
was fastened to the cross. He was wounded 
for your sake. He was done to death by the 
most cruel and agonizing crucifixion because 
of His love for you. It was because He so 
loved you that Pie paid such a price for your 

52 Holiness of Life 

redemption. He was buried, He rose trom 
the dead, He ascended into Heaven, and He 
sent the Holy Spirit Into the world simply be 
cause of His promise to give you and His 
chosen ones the Kingdom of Heaven. Such 
motives should be sufficient inducement to you 
to make your prayer an act of thanksgiving. 
Remember too, that while acts of gratitude 
render prayer immeasurably efficacious, all 
prayer is valueless without the element of 
thanksgiving. "Ingratitude," says St. Ber 
nard, "is a parching wind which dries up the 
sources of piety, the dew of mercy, and the 
streams of grace." 123 

This brings me to the third requisite of per 
fect prayer. You must in the act of prayer 
occupy yourself with and think of naught else 
but what you are doing. It ill becomes a man 
to speak to God with his lips while in heart 
and mind he is far away from God. To pray 
half-heartedly, giving, say, half one s attention 
to what one is doing and the remaining half to 
some business matter or other, is no prayer at 

123 S. Bern. Serm. li on the Canticle of Cant. 

The Practice of Prayer 53 

all. Prayers made in such a way as this never 
reach the ear of God. In the u8th Psalm 
there occurs the following: "I cried with my 
whole heart, hear me, O Lord." 124 St. 
Augustine discovers in this passage the impli 
cation that "a heart divided obtains noth 
ing." 125 

When at prayer, the servant of God should 
recollect herself and taking her heart to her 
self banish from it all solicitude for things of 
earth. Earthly desires should be put aside 
and all love of friends and kinsfolk forgotten. 
All her thoughts and affections should be 
turned inwards and she should give herself up 
wholly to the God to whom she prays. Your 
spouse, Our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, gave 
this counsel in the Holy Gospel: "But thou, 
when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber 
and, having shut the door, pray to thy Father 
in secret." 128 "To enter into your chamber" 
means to recall and gather into the very in- 

124 Ps. cxviii, 145. 

125 S. Aug., on same verse, Serm. xxix. 
" Matt, vi, 6. 

54 Holiness of Life 

most recesses of your heart all your thoughts, 
all your desires, and all your affections. You 
have "shut the door" when you have your 
heart so well under control that no thought or 
wandering phantasy can thwart you in your 
devotions. St. Augustine s definition of 
prayer makes all this evident. "Prayer," he 
says, "is the raising or turning of the mind to 
God by means of loving and humble acts of 
affection." 127 

Let me exhort you, most good mother and 
handmaid of Jesus Christ, to "incline your ear 
to the words of my mouth." 128 Do not be 
misled. Do not be deceived in any way. Do 
not allow the sure and great fruits of prayer 
to slip from your grasp. Do not throw away 
and so destroy the sweets of prayer. Let not 
the delights you may drink to the full in 
prayer be drunk to no purpose. Prayer is the 
well whence sanctifying grace is drawn from 
the spring of the overflowing sweetness of the 
Most Blessed Trinity. The Holy Prophet 

127 S. Aug., The Holy Spirit and the Soul, 50. 

128 Cf. Ps. xliv, ii; Ps. Ixxvii, I. 

The Practice of Prayer 55 

David, who knew all about this, said : "I 
opened my mouth, and panted." "David 

meant," says St. Augustine, "I opened my 
mouth in prayer, I begged by prayer. With 
reiterated prayers I knocked at the door of 
Heaven, and thirsting for the grace of God I 
panted and drew in that heavenly grace." 13 

I have already told you what prayer is, but 
I tell it to you again. "Prayer is the raising 
or turning of the mind to God." Pay atten 
tion to what I am about to say if you wish to 
learn how to raise or turn your mind to God. 
When you give yourself to prayer, you must 
recollect yourself and with your Beloved enter 
into your secret heart and there occupy your 
self with Him alone. Forget everything else 
and with all your mind, heart, affections and 
desires, with all the devotion possible, lift 
yourself out of and above yourself. 131 Take 
care not to allow your mind to become remiss, 
but endeavour constantly, by the burning ardour 

120 Ps. cxviii, 131. 

130 S. Aug. on the same Psalm. 

131 Lament, iii, 28. 

56 Holiness of Life 

of devotion, to mount upwards till you enter 
"into the place of the wonderful tabernacle, 
even to the house of God." 132 There, when 
with the eye of your soul you have caught 
sight of your Beloved, you should in one way 
and another "taste that the Lord is sweet," 133 
and learn how great is "the multitude of His 
sweetness." 134 You should rush to your 
Lover s embrace, and kiss Him with the lips 
of tenderest love. Then, indeed, will you be 
lifted out of yourself. You will be rapt even 
up to Heaven. You will be transformed 
wholly into Christ. At last, unable to restrain 
the raptures of your soul, you will exclaim with 
David : "My soul refused to be comforted. 
I remembered God and I was delighted." 135 
There are three ways in which the soul may 
be transported out of herself and elevated even 
unto God. In order then, dear mother, that 
you may learn how the heart may be lifted up 
higher and higher, and how prayer may in- 

132 Ps. xli, 5. 

133 Ps. xxxiii, 9. 

134 Ps. xxx, 20. 

135 Ps. Ixxvi, 3, 4. 

The Practice of Prayer 57 

flame our love for God still more, I shall dis 
cuss these three methods. A surpassing in 
tensity or excess of devotion is one. Deeply 
rooted, ever-increasing, admiring love is an 
other. The third is exceeding great, exulting 

It happens at times that owing to excess of 
cicvotion "the soul cannot contain herself. 
She is lifted up, rapt out of herself and finally 
becomes transformed. \Yhcn we are lit up by 
so great a fire of heavenly desire that every 
thing of earth is changed into bitterness and 
becomes distasteful to us and at the same time 
the fires of the love of our inmost heart in 
crease in intensity beyond measure, the soul 
melts as though she were wax. She in some 
way becomes dissolved, and like the fumes of 
fragrant incense she mounts high, until at 
length she gains her freedom away on the top 
most summits of Heaven. 1 13 \Yhen this 
happens we are compelled to exclaim with the 
Prophet David : "My flesh and my heart hath 
fainted away. Thou art the God of my heart, 

130 Richard of St. Victor. 

58 Holiness of Life 

and the God that is my portion for ever." 137 
Elevation of soul may also be brought about 
as follows : "An ever-increasing, admiring 
love frequently brings to the mind such floods 
of Divine Light and overwhelms the soul with 
such a realisation of the Divine Loveliness 
that she becomes bewildered. Struck to her 
very foundations she loses hold of the body. 
Just as the deeper a streak of lightning strikes 
the quicker it mounts, so is it with the soul in 
the condition just described. The more such 
a soul contemns herself and sinks in self- 
abasement in presence of God s most admir 
able loveliness, so much the higher and quicker 
does she rise. The greater the ardour of her 
loving, admiring desires, the higher does she 
ascend. She is carried otit of herself until she 
is elevated even to the topmost heights." 138 
There, as another Esther, she bursts forth into 
a paean of praise. "I saw Thee, My Lord," 
she exclaims, "as an Angel of God; and my 
heart was troubled for fear of Thy Majesty, 

137 Ps. Ixxii, 26. 

1 38 Richard of St. Victor. 

The Practice of Prayer 59 

for Thou, My Lord, art very admirable; and 
Thy Face is full of graces." 18J> 

A similar transport occurs when exceeding, 
exulting joy takes possession of the soul. 
"When the soul has drunk of an abundance of 
interior sweetness and is completely inebriated 
with delight she forgets altogether what she is, 
and what she was. There and then she is 
transformed. She is thrown into a state of 
supernatural love, and is rapt into a marvel 
lous bliss-producing ecstasy." 140 With the 
Psalmist in transport she sings: "How lovely 
are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts. My 
soul longs and faints for the courts of the 
Lord. My heart and my flesh have rejoiced 
in the living God." 141 

Thus is it that the servant of God should 
train herself in the practice of fervent prayer. 
Frequent prayer, the frequent use of prayer 
will teach her and render her fit to contemplate 
things divine. The eye of a heart purified 

13D Esth. xv, 16, 17. 

1<0 Richard of St. Victor. 

141 Ps. Ixxxiii, 23. 

60 Holiness of Life 

and washed by prayer can see the things above. 
Purified by frequent prayer the soul comes to 
taste and to enjoy the sweets of God. It is 
not becoming for a soul fashioned after and 
stamped with God s image to fritter away her 
time busying herself with earthly cares. A 
soul redeemed by Christ s Precious Blood and 
made for eternal happiness ought "to ascend 
even above the Cherubim and fly upon the 
wings of the wind," 142 that is, the wings of 
the Angels. She ought to ascend high and 
contemplate the Most Holy Trinity and 
Christ s Sacred Humanity. She should medi 
tate on the glory of the citizens of the city 
above, and ponder on the happiness of the 
Angels and Saints. 

Tell me, who explore to-day into the re 
gions of heavenly glory? Who are they that 
in heart and soul pass their time thinking on 
the things above? They are the few. We 
may to-day with truth say even of many 
religious what St. Bernard said : "Many who 
should have been devoutly penetrating the 

142 Cf. Ps. xvii, ii. 

The Practice of Prayer 61 

heavens, viewing there the many mansions, 
holding converse with the apostles and the 
prophets and assisting in wonder at the tri 
umphs of the martyrs, instead, find themselves 
as base slaves to the body, serve the flesh and 
pamper its gluttonous desires." 143 

143 S. Bern. Serm. xxxv on the Canticle of Cant., 3. 



Christ s death on the Cross should live in 
our thoughts and imagination, for frequent 
thought on the Passion of Christ keeps aflame 
and brings to intense heat the fires of earnest 
piety. We must picture to the eyes of our 
heart Christ dying on the Cross if we would 
prevent the fires of devotion within us burn 
ing themselves out. An apposite quotation 
bears this out. "The fire on my altar shall 
always burn, and the priest shall feed it, put 
ting wood on it every day." 144 

Let me explain, most devout mother. The 
altar of God is your heart. On the altar of 
your heart the fire of intense heat must burn 
constantly. You must feed the fire each day 
with the wood of the cross and the remem 
brance of the Passion of Christ. Isaias, the 

14 *Levit. vi, 12. 


Remembrance of Christ s Passion 63 

prophet, preaches a similar truth : "You shall 
draw waters with joy out of the Saviour s 
fountains." 145 In other words, if the grace 
of tears, the tears of thanksgiving, the tears of 
fervent piety are sought, such tears must be 
drawn from the Saviour s fountains, i. c., 
from the five wounds of Jesus Christ. 

Draw near, O handmaid, with loving steps 
to Jesus wounded for you, to Jesus crowned 
with thorns, to Jesus nailed to the gibbet of 
the Cross. Gaze with the Blessed Apostle St. 
Thomas, not merely on the print of the nails 
in Christ s hands ; be not satisfied with putting 
your finger into the holes made by the nails 
in His hands ; neither let it be sufficient to put 
your hand into the wound in His side; 14 but 
enter bodily by the door in His side and go 
straight up to the very Heart of Jesus. There, 
burning with love for Christ Crucified, be 
transformed into Christ. Fastened to the 
Cross by the nails of the fear of God, trans 
fixed by the lance of the love of your inmost 

145 Is. xii, 3. 

148 John xx, 25, 27. 

64 Holiness of Life 

heart, pierced through and through by the 
sword of the tenderest compassion, seek for 
nothing else, wish for nothing else, look for 
consolation in nothing else except in dying 
with Christ on the Cross. Then, at last, will 
you cry out with Paul the Apostle: With 
Christ I am nailed to the Cross. I live, now 
not I; but Christ liveth in me." 147 

When you meditate on the passion of Christ 
proceed as follows : Think how Christ s suffer 
ings were the most disgraceful, the most bit 
ter, the most general in kind, and the most 

In the first place, O worthy handmaid of 
God, dwell on the fact that the death of Jesus 
Christ, your Spouse, was the most disgraceful 
possible. Most disgraceful, because he was 
crucified as a thief and a highway robber. 
The old Law 148 reserved the punishment of 
death by crucifixion for the villainous among 
thieves and the utterly criminal among robbers. 

147 Gal. ii, 19, 20. 

148 Cf. Num. xxv, 4; Deut. xxi, 22 sq. ; II Kings 
xxi, 6-9; Esth. vii, 10 and ix, 13; also Gal. iii, 13. 

Remembrance of Christ s Passion 65 

Reflect for a moment, and realise how 
Christ suffered greater disgrace than usually 
befell a criminal. He was crucified on Mount 
Calvary 14 a place disgusting and vile be 
cause of its associations. It was a heap of 
dead men s bodies and bones, and was the spot 
given over to the execution of those con 
demned to death for murderous deeds. There 
only vile criminals were beheaded ; only vile 
criminals were hanged or crucified. 

A little more thought will enable you to 
realise still better the greater disgrace that was 
meted out to Christ. He was hanged as a 
robber among robbers. He was placed in the 
midst of robbers as the Chief, the Prince, the 
King of robbers. Hence we find Isaias say 
ing: "He was reputed with the wicked." 150 

Consider even a little longer how greatly 
disgraced was your Spouse. As though He 
were unfit to live or die upon the earth, He was 

140 Matt, xxvii, 33; Mark xv, 22; Luke xxiii, 33; 
John xix, 17 and cf. S. Bonav. on Wisd. ii 19 etc., Com. 
on John xix, 17; Luke xxiii, 33. 

150 Is. liii, 12; cf. also Matt, xxvii. 38; Mark xv, 27; 
Luke xxii, 37; xxiii, 33; John xix, 18. 

66 Holiness of Life 

raised into the air and was hanged between 
heaven and earth. O worthy indignity ! O 
fitting injury! The earth is refused to the 
Lord of the world. Nothing in the world is 
considered more vile than the Lord of the 
world. His condemnation was an insult. 
To crucify Him was still worse. "He was 
numbered and condemned among the wicked." 
To compel Him to die shoulder to shoulder 
with criminals increased His shame. Lastly 
they put Him to death on the vile hill of Cal 
vary and thus intensified His shame beyond un 
derstanding. Christ suffered the very extrem 
ity of insult and unparalleled disgrace. 

O good Jesus, O kind Saviour, not once but 
often were you outraged. When a man is re 
peatedly put to shame, his shame is thereby 
increased. Alas ! they heaped insult upon insult 
on You! They bound thee, O Lord Jesus, 
with ropes in the Garden. In the house of 
Annas they slapped Thy face. They spat 
upon Thee when Thou wast in the hall of 
Caiphas. They made game and mockery of 
Thee in the presence of Herod. They forced 

Remembrance of Christ s Passion 67 

Thee to carry the Cross along the road 
and on Golgotha they crucified Thee. Alas, 
alas, the Freedom of the Captives is enslaved, 
the Glory of the Angels is mocked, the Life of 
Men is done to death ! O you wretched Jews, 
you said : "Let us condemn Him to a most 
shameful death." 151 What you said you 
would do, you have done, and done well ! 

Realizing it all St. Bernard cries out : " He 
emptied Himself taking the form of a ser 
vant. 152 He was a Son and He became a 
servant, but for Him it was insufficient to be 
a mere servant and to live in subjection. He 
took to Himself the form of a wicked servant 
and thus made Himself an object for the 
scourge and fitted Himself to pay the penalties 
due to crimes He had never committed." 153 
He was not merely the Servant of the servants 
of God, as is the Pope, 154 but He became the 
Servant even of the servants of the evil one, 
for did He not forgive and cleanse His execu- 

1M Wisd. ii, 20. 

152 Phil, ii, 7. 

ir 3 S. Hern. Holy Week Serm. 10. 

154 John the Deacon, Life of S. Greg, the Great, I. 

68 Holiness of Life 

tioners from the guilt of the foul crimes they 
had committed? This did not suffice. Lest 
you should dread the prospect of suffering 
similarly, He chose a death more humiliating 
and more confusing than any other. "He 
humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto 
death, even to the death of the Cross." 155 
What else could have reduced Him so to noth 
ingness ? 

Come now, O virgin devoted to God, and 
consider attentively the bitter cruelty of Christ s 
sufferings. When harassed and wearied with 
pain a man ordinarily finds a certain ease and 
comfort in the contraction of his limbs and 
muscles. With His hands and legs extended 
on the cross, movement was impossible for 
Christ and so such relaxation was denied Him. 
Worn out with sufferings He found not even 
the least ease or lessening of pain. There was 
no place whereon He might rest His Divine 
adorable head as His soul was about to take 
her flight. 

Let us go into the matter of Christ s bitter 

"5 Phil, ii, 8. 

Remembrance of Christ s Passion 69 

sufferings more closely. The more tender a 
body, the more acutely does it suffer. 156 A 
woman s body is more tender than a man s. 
There was never flesh more adapted for suffer 
ing than the virginal flesh of Christ. It was 
born of a Virgin, who conceived of the Holy 
Ghost, and the Man Christ was the tenderest 
of virgins. It was possible for Christ to suffer 
the most excruciating sufferings of all. Actu 
ally, at the mere thought of the death that 
over-shadowed Him, "His soul became sad," 
and the sadness reverberating in His tender 
flesh, "the sweat" of his Body oozed out in 
thick drops "as a sweat of blood dripping to 
the ground." 157 What must have been the 
anguish and torture He endured during the 
course of His Passion! St. Bernard says: 
"O Jesus Christ, the blood which You sweated 
from Your sacred body, and which flowed to 
the ground as You prayed, most surely showed 
the anguish of Your heart." 158 "O sweetest 
15 Cf. S. Bonav. Ill Sent. d. xvi, I, qu. 2. 

157 Matt, xxvi, 38; Luke xxii, 44. 

158 Serm. on the Life and Pass, of the Lord, 6. 

yo Holiness of Life 

Child," cried out St. Anselm, "what did You 
do that You should be treated so? O 
most Lovable of Youths, what was Your 
sin that Your judgment should be so severe? 
Alas, I am the cause of Your grief, I inflicted 
the deadly blow!" 159 

Once again, strain your attention and come 
to a better understanding of Christ s bitterly 
cruel death. When a person is innocent of a 
crime, the more innocent he is, the more poig 
nantly does he feel the punishment inflicted. 
If Christ had endured the tortures of His pas 
sion because of His own sins, His sufferings 
would have been somewhat tolerable. But 
"He did no sin, neither was guile found in his 
mouth." 160 Pilate bore witness to this: "I 
find no cause of death in Him." 161 So too, 
the seventh chapter of the Book of Wisdom: 
He is "the brightness of eternal light, and the 
unspotted mirror of God s majesty, and the 
image of His goodness." 1G2 

> 159 S. Anselm, Prayer. 
160 I Pet. ii, 22. 
i Cf. John xviii, 38. 
i"Wisd. vii, 26. 

Remembrance of Christ s Passion 71 

Consider still further how painful was the 
death of your beloved Spouse, Jesus Christ. 
Suffering is bad enough, but when every tor 
ture conceivable is inflicted, what could be 
more painful? Christ, your Spouse, suffered 
in every part of His body so that no member, 
not even the least, escaped its own particular 
suffering. No part of His body was too small 
or too trivial but that it had its full share of 
torture. "From the sole of His foot unto 
the crown of His head was no soundness in 
Him." lfl3 Hence, overwhelmed with the 
prophetic vision of Christ s too great suffer 
ings, Jeremias puts the following words into the 
Saviour s mouth : "Oh, all ye who pass by the 
way, look and see if there be any sorrow like 
unto My sorrow." 104 In very deed, my Lord 
Jesus Christ, there was never grief like Your 
grief, no sorrow like Your sorrow, no suffer 
ing comparable with Your suffering. You 
shed Your blood so profusely that Your body 
was bathed in blood. 

103 Cf. Is. i, 6. 
lfl * Lament, i, 12. 

72 Holiness of Life 

O good Jesus, O sweetest Jesus! Not 
merely drops of blood, but rivers of blood 
flowed liberally from Your five wounds when 
Your body was hanging nailed to the cross! 
Blood flowed in torrents from Your head 
when you were crowned with thorns ! Blood 
flowed from the whole of Your body whilst 
You were being scourged with the lash! 
Blood flowed from Your heart when You were 
pierced with the lance ! If any blood remained 
in You it could have been only by a miracle! 
Tell me, oh, tell me, O sweet Lord, why did 
You shed so much blood ? Why did you shed 
all the blood of Your body? One drop of 
Your sacred precious blood would have sufficed 
for the world s redemption. Why did you do 
it? I know, O Lord, why. It was simply 
and solely to show how much You love me. 

"What return, then, shall I make to the 
Lord for all that He has done for me?" 1G5 
"Of a surety, my Lord, as long as I live I shall 
never forget how Thou spentest Thyself in 
my behalf. I shall bear constantly in mind 
165 Ps. cxv, 12. 

Remembrance of Christ s Passion 73 

Thy preaching, the weariness caused Thee by 
Thy travelling up and down the country, Thy 
vigils and prayers, Thy compassionate tears, 
Thy griefs, the insults that were heaped upon 
Thee, the spittle and the sneers, the blows, the 
nails and wounds. Otherwise, were I to for 
get these things, rightly would the blood of 
this Just Man, which was shed upon the earth, 
be demanded of me. " 1G6 "Who therefore, 
will give water to my head, and a fountain of 
tears to my eyes," 107 that day and night I may 
weep for the death of my Lord Jesus Christ? 
He suffered death not because of His own sins 
but because of mine. In the words of Isaias, 
"He was wounded for our iniquities, He was 
bruised for our sins." 168 

Lastly, ponder attentively and carefully on 
the protracted duration of Christ s sufferings 
and death. Christ bore about with Him His 
sufferings from the beginning to the end. 
From the first moment of His birth to the last 

100 S. Bern. Holy Week Serm. ii; cfr. Matt, xxii, 35. 
107 Jer. ix, i. 
168 Is. liii, 5. 

74 Holiness of Life 

flicker of His life His death and passion were 
ever present to His mind. The Psalmist as 
sures us of this fact: "I am poor, and in 
labours from My youth." 169 The same 
thought is expressed elsewhere : "I have been 
scourged all the day." 17 That is, I have 
been scourged during the whole of my life. 

A further thought is suggested to reflection. 
The arrangements made for inflicting Christ s 
sufferings were peculiar to His passion. 
Everything was done to protract the torture. 
He was suspended in the air that conscious 
ness should endure and thus would He be in 
pain to the end. Further, everything tended 
to keep Him alive, and thus the torture of a 
lingering death was His. Death by cruci 
fixion kept Him conscious and in agony to the 
last moment. 

From all that I have said, dear spouse of 
Christ and servant of God, you will gather a 
clear idea of Christ s sufferings and death. 
You will be able to realise somewhat how the 

169 Ps. Ixxxvii, 16. 

170 Ps. Ixxii, 14. 

Remembrance of Christ s Passion 75 

sacred passion induced in our Lord a sense of 
unutterable disgrace. His sufferings were 
cruelly painful, and extended to every member 
of His body and to every faculty of His soul. 
In a word, Christ s sufferings and death were 
unique in their kind and protracted in their 

Christ accepted these sufferings and death to 
gain your devoted love. Through thought on 
these sufferings and out of gratitude He 
wishes you to love Him. He desires you to 
love Him with your whole heart, with your 
whole mind, and with your whole soul. 171 To 
save a slave He became a slave. What could 
prove better His kindness of heart? What 
better incentive to enable us to work for our 
own salvation could He give than His own ex 
ample? To appease the divine anger He ac 
cepted the death that the justice of God de 
manded and thereby gave us an example of 
obedience. Could you name a better induce 
ment to love God than the love that the Son 
of God has shown for you? In spite of our 

171 Cf. Matt, xxii, 37. 

76 Holiness of Life 

worthlessness, though we deserve punishment, 
He "laid down His life" 172 for us. His kind 
ness reached such depths and such heights that 
it is impossible to imagine anything more ten 
der, more kind or more lovable. The great 
ness of His love becomes more patent the more 
the abject and terrible nature of Christ s suf 
ferings is realised. For God "spared not even 
His own Son, but delivered Him up for us 
all; how hath He not also, with Him, given 
us all things?" 173 This is the way God has 
loved us, and has invited us to love Him and 
to imitate Him in His love for us. 

Woe, therefore, to those who are ungrateful 
for the benefits accruing to them from this 
great kindness of Christ ! Woe to those in 
whose souls the death of Christ produces no 
good effects! "Look," says St. Bernard, "at 
Christ on the Cross ! Look at Him, His head 
bent down as though He longed to stoop to 
kiss us ! Look at Him, His arms extended to 
take us in a loving embrace ! Look at His 

172 Cf. John \, 15. 

173 Rom. viii, 32. 

Remembrance of Christ s Passion 77 

hands so deeply pierced to pour out riches for 
our benefit. Look at His sacred side opened 
wide to permit the love of His heart to reach 
us! Look at Him, His whole body extended 
to give Himself entirely to us! Woe to 
those, I say it a second time, who by their sins 
"crucify again to themselves the Son of God," 
and have added to the grief of His 
wounds." 174 Woe, further, to those whose 
hearts will not soften nor give way to grief at 
the thought of Christ s sufferings. Woe to 
those whom the shedding of God s blood in 
such abundance and the payment of such a 
great price cannot warm and inflame to the 
practice of virtue, kind charity and good 
works! Certainly, such people are "the ene 
mies of the cross of Christ." 175 On a day long 
since past, the Jews blasphemed Christ hang 
ing on the Cross. Sinners do worse. They 
blaspheme Christ the Son of God sitting at the 
right hand of His Father in Heaven. 

Speaking through the mouth of His servant 

174 Cf. Hob. vi, 6; Ps. Ixviii, 27. 
i" Phil, iii, 18. 

78 Holiness of Life 

St. Bernard Our Lord complains of these un 
grateful ones and rebukes them. "Man," He 
says, "look what I suffer for you. What 
grief is there such as I suffer? In the act of 
dying for you I appeal to you. Look at the 
sufferings heaped upon Me. Look at the 
nails which dig into My flesh. You can see 
the exterior suffering, but My interior grief 
of heart is greater still when I realise that in 
spite of all you remain so ungrateful." 17G 

Take care, Mother, lest you be wanting in 
gratitude for such benefits. A great price has 
been paid for you. Have a care lest you be 
lacking in devotion or show too little attach 
ment to Christ. Place Jesus Christ "as a seal 
on your heart." 17T Just as a seal is impressed 
upon soft wax, impress your spouse Jesus 
Christ on your heart. Say to Him with the 
Prophet : "My heart is become like melting 
wax." 178 Put Him "as a seal upon thy arm," 
so that you may never cease doing good and 

176 S. Bern. Ill Sent. d. 16. 
"7 Cf. Cant, viii, 6. 
178 Ps. xxi, 15. 

Remembrance of Christ s Passion 79 

may never tire working for the honour of the 
name of your Lord Jesus Christ. When you 
have done everything, when you have spent 
yourself in His service, begin afresh, as 
though you had never done anything for Him. 
If ever anything sad befalls you, or any 
thing grieves you, or if perchance something 
causes you weariness or bitterness of heart, or 
sweetness of soul turns insipid, lift up imme 
diately your eyes to your Lord hanging nailed 
to the Cross. Look upon Him, His head 
crowned with thorns ! Gaze upon the nails, 
the iron nails which fasten Him to the Cross, 
and upon the lance piercing His sacred side. 
In all trying moments, picture and contemplate 
the wounds in His hands and feet, figure to 
yourself the wounds in His most blessed 
head, the wound in His sacred side, the wounds 
of His whole body. Recall to mind that He 
was wounded for your sake, that he suffered 
for you and that His sufferings were so great 
because He loved you beyond compare. Be 
lieve me, a glance at such pictures and thought 
on such sufferings will quickly change your 

8o Holiness of Life 

sadness into joy. What was heavy to bear 
will become light. What causes your weariness 
will become something to love. The rugged 
and the difficult will be changed into sweetness 
and relish, so that soon, with Holy Job, you 
will begin to exclaim : "The things which be 
fore my soul would not touch," now when I 
look upon the "anguish" of Christ "are my 
meats." 179 It is as though you were to say: 
The good things which were distasteful to my 
soul are now become through the passion of 
Christ, which I realise, sweet and savoury. 

In the Chronicles of the Franciscan Order 18 
there is related the following story. A certain 
man being converted and having entered the 
Order eventually became impatient with the 
frugality of the Friars. The discipline of the 
Friary too, upset him. Once, being very per 
turbed and lost to all patience on account of 
these things, he threw himself down before a 
crucifix. With bitter tears he enumerated the 
intolerable hardships he was called upon to 

179 Job vi, 7. 

180 Chronicles xxiv, 3. 

Remembrance of Christ s Passion 81 

endure: the burdens of the religious life, the 
scant and frugal fare, the insipidity of the 
food and drink. As he poured forth his griev 
ances, suddenly, blood began to ooze from the 
side of the image of Christ nailed to the cross. 
As he continued his weeping and wailing, the 
bleeding image of the crucified Christ spoke to 
him these words : "When you find your food 
or drink unsavoury, dip it into the sauce of the 
blood of Christ." 



Earlier on, guided by the Holy Spirit, I 
explained to you how you should train your 
faculties so that passing from "virtue to vir 
tue," 181 you might advance step by step in the 
way of holiness. I come now to the soul or 
life-giving principle of all the virtues. I refer 
to charity, the virtue alone capable of leading 
a man to real holiness. In mortifying the 
flesh, in overcoming sin and in attaining to 
grace, nothing avails like charity. Would you 
reach the highest rung of the ladder of per 
fection? Nothing could possibly be devised 
to help you more than charity. 

In his book on the contemplative life Pros 
per writes: "Charity is the life of virtue and 
the death of vice." 182 "As wax melts tjefore 

181 Ps. Ixxxiii, 8. 

182 Prosper iii, 13. 


The Perfect Love of God 83 

the fire so" vices "vanish into nothingnesss" 
when they come "face to face" 183 with charity. 
Charity is a virtue of such power that it can 
both close the gates of hell and open wide the 
portals of eternal bliss. Charity provides the 
hope of salvation and alone renders us lovable 
in God s sight. It is so great a virtue that 
among the virtues it is called the virtue. To be 
founded and rooted in charity is to be wealthy 
and happy, for without charity we are indi 
gent and wretched. 184 Commenting on the 
words of St. Paul, "If I have not charity," 185 
Peter Lombard quoting St. Augustine says: 
"Just think a moment on the excellence of 
charity. Without charity it is useless to pos 
sess all else; possess it, and you have every 
thing. To begin to possess it is to possess the 
Holy Ghost." 18 Elsewhere St. Augustine 
says: "If it is the practice of virtue which 
leads to Heaven, I unhesitatingly affirm that 

183 Cf. Ps. Ixvii, 3. 

184 Cf. Apoc. iii, 17. 
186 I Cor. xiii, 2. 

188 Pet Lomb. Cora, on I Cor., quoting S. Aug. 

84 Holiness of Life 

the virtue to be practised is the pure love of 
God." 187 

Since it is a virtue of supreme importance 
charity must be insisted on before all else. 
Let it be well noted, however, that the charity 
leading to the possession of God is not any 
charity, but solely the charity, the love that 
loves God above all things and loves God s 
creatures for God s sake. 

The Holy Gospel gives a clear lead on the 
qualities of this love for God. "Thou shalt 
love the Lord Thy God with thy whole heart, 
and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole 
mind." 18S Think well, most cherished hand 
maid of Jesus Christ, on the love which Your 
Beloved Jesus demands from you. He, Your 
Best Beloved, wishes you to love, and to love 
Him most lovingly. He desires that you give 
yourself body and soul, mind and heart entirely 
to love of Him. He wishes to share your love 
with no one else. He commands that you be 
all His. How is this to be done? What are 

187 S. Aug. De Morib. Ecc., I, xv, 25. 

188 Matt, xxii, 37 ; Mark xii, 30 ; Luke x, 27. 

The Perfect Love of God 85 

you to do that there can be no doubt that you 
love the Lord God with your whole heart ? 
How is the love of the whole heart given ? For 
answer, let me quote St. John Chrysostom : 
"To love God with your whole heart it is re 
quisite that nothing attract your heart more 
than God attracts it. You must not take more 
pleasure in the things of earth than in God. 
Honours and places of position, love of father 
and mother and relatives must not count in 
the scale of love before love of God. Be it 
friend or relative, place or position, be it what 
it may, if anything takes up your heart s love 
more than God, you do not love God with 
your whole heart." 189 

I beg you, dear handmaid of Christ, not to 
deceive yourself in your love. If you love 
anything which is not in God, or if loving you 
do not love for God s sake, you do not yet 
love God with your whole heart. It is on 
this account that St. Augustine writes: "O 
Lord, whoever divides his love with You and 
anything or any one else, gives You less love 

189 S. Chrys., Horn, on Matt. 

86 Holiness of Life 

than is Your due." 19 If your love for any 
thing does not conduce to greater love for God 
you do not yet love Him with your whole 
heart. If for the love of anything dear to 
you, you neglect to give Christ those things 
that are His by right, again, I say, you do not 
love Him with your whole heart. 

We must love Our Lord Jesus Christ not 
only with all our heart, but also with all our 
soul. The same Blessed St. Augustine ex 
plains how this is to be done. "To love God 
with one s whole soul, is so to centre the will 
on loving Him that nothing in any way opposed 
to Him wins the least of our love. For the 
soul to give in its entirety all the love of which 
its faculties are capable, she must willingly, 
without the least reluctance or reserve, give 
her love in full accord with all Her Lord s de 
sires." 191 To love Him because it pleases you 
to give him your love or because the world rec 
ommends, or the flesh suggests such love, is 
not the love God asks. If for the love of 

190 S. Aug. Conf. xxix, 40. 

191 S. Aug. Serm. cviii, 35. 

The Perfect Love of God 87 

Jesus Christ you would be prepared gal 
lantly and lovingly to die in His ser 
vice, should occasion arise, then most cer 
tainly do you love Him with your whole soul. 
If you do not love Him for His own sake or 
would find it difficult to die for His sake, your 
love is imperfect. It is not the love of your 
whole soul that you offer Him. Conform your 
will in all things to the Divine Will. This is 
what God demands. Do this, and the love 
wherewith you love God will be the love of 
your whole soul. 

Not only must you love your Spouse, Jesus 
Christ, with your whole heart and soul, you 
must also love Him with all your mind. What 
"with all your mind" means St. Augustine ex 
plains : "To love God with all the love of 
which the mind is capable is to love Him un 
ceasingly. It means that He must never be 
absent from our loving thoughts. Memory 
must keep Him constantly in mind." 192 

162 S. Aug. Serm. cviii. 



It is not enough to be virtuous. To be 
firmly rooted in virtue, to possess virtuous 
habits, does not render us glorious in God s 
sight. Something else is still wanting. To 
be an object of glory to the eye of God we 
must possess the culminating virtue, the crown 
and consummation of all virtues, perseverance. 
No mortal being whatever, no matter how per 
fect He may seem, should be praised whilst he 
lives. Let a man be praised not because he 
has begun a good work but because he has 
brought it to a good and happy completion. 
"Perseverance is the end, acme and crown of 
the virtues, it nurtures and fits one for merit, 
it leads to and culminates in reward." 193 
Hence St. Bernard says : "Take away perse 
verance and nothing remains. For the ful- 
193 S. Bern. Ep. cxxix, 2. 

Final Perseverance 89 

filment of duty, the performance of good deeds 
and the exercise of fortitude will not procure 
the grace sufficient to obtain eternal praise." 194 
It will avail a man little to have been a religious, 
to have been patient and humble, devout and 
chaste, to have loved God and to have exercised 
himself in all the virtues, if he continues not 
to the end. He must persevere to win the 
crown. In the race of the spiritual life all 
the virtues run, but only perseverance "receives 
the prize." 195 It is not the beginner in vir 
tue but "he that shall persevere unto the end, 
he shall be saved." 196 "What is the use of 
seeds sprouting if afterwards they wither and 
die?" 197 asks St. Chrysostom. None what 

If then, dear spouse of Jesus Christ, your 
virtues are productive of good works and I 
assume that this is so be sure to continue in 
your good practices. Persevere in your vir- 

18 Ibidem. 

186 1 Cor. ix, 24. 

Matt. x, 22. 

187 S. Chrys., Horn, xxxiii, 5. 

90 Holiness of Life 

tuous habits. Make it a practice ever and con 
stantly to increase in the performance of good 
works. Wage the war of Christ with all your 
might. Practise and increase in virtue up to 
the very moment of death. Then, when your 
last moment comes and your life is brought 
to a close, God will give you the crown of 
honour and glory as the prize and reward of 
your labour. Your best Beloved Lord Jesus 
Christ has assured you of this. These are His 
words, written for your instruction by the in 
spired writer of the Apocalypse: "Be thou 
faithful unto death, and I will give thee the 
crown of life." 198 What is this crown if not 
the reward of eternal life? The heart of 
every Christian ought to burn with the desire 
of winning this reward. In value there is noth 
ing comparable to it, it is priceless. It sur 
passes the mathematician s power, says St. 
Gregory, to count its varying parts and mani 
fold possibilities. 199 There is no limit to its 

198 Apoc. ii, 10. 

198 Cf .S. Greg. II Horn, on Gospels xxxvii, I. 

Final Perseverance 91 

duration. It is to be enjoyed eternally. It 
can never cease. 

Your Beloved Spouse Jesus Christ invites 
you to win this prize, to gain this crown. Lis 
ten to what He says to you in the Canticle of 
Canticles : "Come from Libanus, my Spouse, 
come my friend from Libanus, come and thou 
shalt be crowned." 20 "Arise at once," you 
who call yourself "the friend" of God, the 
spouse of Jesus Christ, the best beloved of the 
Eternal King, "come, make haste" 201 to the 
marriage feast of the Son of God. 202 "Every 
thing is prepared," 203 the whole court of 
Heaven awaits you. 204 

Three wonderful joys are prepared for you 
in the heavenly Kingdom. There is a servant 
of noble lineage, beautiful to look upon. He 
will be at your beck and call. A food of price 
less worth and alluring in its sweetness to re- 

200 Cant, iv, 8. 

201 Cant, ii, 10. 

202 Cf. Apoc. xix, 9. 
208 Matt, xxii, 4. 

ao *Cf. S. Bonav. Soliloq. 

92 Holiness of Life 

fresh you. A society, sweet and delightful 
and lovable beyond conception. Such fellow 
ship will intensify your joy. Arise then and 
speed with haste to the nuptials, because of the 
transcendent beauty of the servant who waits 
to perform your commands. That servant is 
not one only, for the whole angelic assembly, 
yea, even the very Son of God will be in readi 
ness to attend to your wants. Listen to what 
He says of Himself as reported in the Holy 
Gospel of St. Luke: "Amen, I say to you, 
that He will gird Himself, and make them sit 
down to meat, and passing, will minister unto 
them." 205 Ah, then, indeed, great will be the 
glory of the poor and lowly, to have the Son 
of God, the Eternal King ministering to their 
wants and the whole court of Heaven diligently 
obeying their behests. 

A precious, delight-giving food, a food to 
refresh you, awaits you there. The very Son 
of God with His own hands will prepare the 
table. He pledged His word to this, as we 
read in St. Luke: "I dispose to you, as my 

206 Luke xii, 37; cf. S. Bonav. Soliloq. iv, 12. 

Final Perseverance 93 

Father has disposed to me a Kingdom; that 
you may eat and drink at my table, in my King 
dom." 206 Oh, how sweet and luscious is that 
food which God in all His sweetness has pre 
pared for the poor ! 207 Oh, how blessed will 
he be who eats that food in the Kingdom of 
Heaven f In the precincts of the Virginal 
Womb of Mary that food was prepared by the 
burning love of the Holy Ghost. "If any man 
eat of this Bread he shall live forever." 208 
With such food, with such bread the King of 
Heaven feeds and refreshes His chosen ones. 
This we are told also in the book of Wisdom. 
"Thou didst feed Thy people with the food 
of Angels and gavest them bread from Heaven, 
prepared without labour, having in it all that 
is delicious and the sweetness of every taste, 
and serving every man s will." 209 Such, 
in a word, is the repast provided at the heavenly 

208 Luke xxii, 29 & 30. 

207 Cf. Ps. Ixvii, ii. 

208 John vi, 52. 

209 Wisd. xvi, 20, 21. 

94 Holiness of Life 

There is also a loving and exceedingly lov 
able fellowship prepared that your happiness in 
Heaven may be complete. There the company 
will be the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit 
together with Mary and her throng of chaste 
virgins. There you will dwell with the Apos 
tles, the Martyrs, the Confessors, the whole 
army of the elect. How altogether miserable 
it will be for those who fail to be associated 
with this most noble band! If there is one 
who does not long to have part in this fellow 
ship, all desire in him must be dead. 

You, O most noble handmaid of Christ, I 
know, desire Christ. You are striving to gain 
possession of Christ and you are striving with 
all your might. Your great desire is to lan 
guish in the companionship and embraces of 
the Eternal King. Well, now, have courage, 
inflame your heart, arouse your soul, keep 
your intellect on the alert and think well on 
what you are able to do. If each good thing 
separately may furnish delight, reflect how re 
plete with delight must be the good that con 
tains all the delight which all good things can 

Final Perseverance 95 

produce collectively. If the life of the crea 
ture is good, what goodness must there be in 
the Creator of li f e ? I f the health of the body is 
an inestimable delight, what is to be said of 
that Health, that saving Power which is the 
Author of all health and salvation, whether of 
soul or body? When one possesses this great 
Good there is no limit to one s possessions. 
There is nothing that does not belong to him. 
Whatever he desires will be his. Whatever 
he does not want he will not have. In Heaven, 
undoubtedly, will be found the good things of 
soul and body good things such as eye hath 
not seen, nor ear heard, and that have neither 
entered into the heart of man. Why then do 
you wander about so much searching for good 
things for soul and body ? Love the One Only 
Good. Love the Good in which all other good 
is contained. That One Good suffices. Long 
for that Goodness alone which is all that is 
Good. It is all that you need." 21 

"In Heaven, Mother dear, all that you love, 
all that you desire is to be found. What is 
210 S. Ansclm, Prosloq. xxiv & xxvi ; I Cor. ii, 9. 

96 Holiness of Life 

it you love ? O loving virgin, on what do you 
centre all the desires of your heart? Is it 
beauty which charms you and claims your love ? 
If so, In Heaven the just shall shine as the 
sun/ 211 If a long life, a life full of health is 
what you mostly wish, in Heaven you will re 
alise your desire, for there the just shall live 
for ever. The salvation of the just is for 
evermore/ 212 Is it a complete, a total satis 
faction that you crave? If so there they will 
be satisfied when the glory of God shall ap 
pear/ 213 Would you be inebriated, intoxi 
cated with delight? They shall be inebriated 
with the plenty of the house of God/ 214 Do 
you look to be delighted with sweet melody? 
Well, in Heaven the Angelic Choirs chant in 
harmony praising God without ceasing. Is it 
in loving friendship you seek your delight? 
In Heaven the Saints love God more than 
themselves. So, too, they love each other more 

211 Matt, xiii, 43. 

212 Wisd. v, 16; Ps. xxxvi, 39. 

213 Cf. Ps. xvi, 15. 
21 *Cf. Ps. xxxv, 9. 

Final Perseverance 97 

than themselves and God loves them infinitely 
more than they love themselves. Should it be 
peace of heart and union which appeals to you, 
realise that in Heaven there is no will but the 
Will of God. If honour and riches please you, 
God will place His servants and his hand 
maids over many things. 215 They shall be 
called and will be indeed, the sons and daugh 
ters, the children of God. 21 Where God is 
there they also shall be who are the heirs in 
deed of God, and co-heirs with Christ/ " 21T 
"Where goodness to such a degree and to 
such an excess exists, what will be the qualities 
and extent of the joy there to be found? Cer 
tainly, O Lord Jesus, eye hath not seen, nor 
ear heard, neither, in this life hath it entered 
into the heart of man 218 to conceive how Thy 
Blessed will love Thee and will rejoice on Thy 
account when they revel in heavenly bliss." 219 

215 Matt, xxv, 21. 
21(5 Matt, v, 9. 

217 Cf John xii, 26 and Rom. viii, 17 ; S. Ansclm, 
Prosloq. xxv. 

218 I Cor. ii, 9. 

218 S. Ansclm, Prosloq. xxvi. 

98 Holiness of Life 

What measure men put to their love of God 
here will be the measure of their rejoicing with 
God in Heaven. Therefore, love God intensely 
here, and your rejoicing will be intense here 
after. Continue to grow in the love of God 
here, and afterwards in Heaven you will possess 
the fulness of eternal joy. "Ponder in mind 
on the joy of Heaven, talk it over with your 
self, love it with all your heart and speak of it 
to others. Let your soul hunger and your 
body thirst for it. Long for it with all your 
being until at last you enter into the joy of 
your Lord. " 220 Sigh for it until you fall 
into the loving embraces of your Spouse and 
are introduced by Him into His own bridal 
chamber, where with the Father and the Holy 
Spirit He lives and reigns One God, for ever 
and ever. Amen. 

220 S. Anselm, ibid., and Matt. xxv. 21. 



Angels, 32, 60, 96. 
Angelas, The, XXIV sq. 
Anger, 4 sq. 
Annas, 66. 
Anselm, St., 7- 
Antony, St, XIV. 
Augustine, St., 15 sq., 18, 

19, 50, 53, 54, 55, 83, 85, 

86, 87. 
Avarice, 28 sq. 31 sq. 


BEATITUDE, 96 sqq. 

Beauty, 96. 

Bede, St., 26. 

Bernard, St., iii, IO, II sq., 

13, 20, 24 sq., 27, 28, 52, 

60 sq., 67, 69, 76, 78, 88. 
Blindness, Spiritual, 8. 
Blood, Christ s Precious, 

71 sq., 81. 
Bonavcnturc, St., Abp. Mc- 

Intyrc on, I sqq.; Ger- 

son on, II sq., XXIII; 
Peter of Tarentaise (In 
nocent V) on, III sq.; 
Biographical sketch of, 
by the Editor, VII sqq.; 
And St. Thomas Aqui 
nas, VIII; Writings of, 
IX, XIX sqq. ; As Gen 
eral of the Franciscan 
Order, X sqq.; As a 
Cardinal, XI; "The Six 
Wings of the Sera 
phim," XI sq.; On the 
Rule of St. Francis, 
XIII; "Legend of St. 
Francis," XIV; As a 
preacher, XV sq.; And 
the missions, XVI; As 
a mystic, XVII, XXVII; 
Relation to the Poor 
Clares, XVII sqq.; "De 
Perfectione Vitae ad 
Sorores," XIX sqq. ; The 
"Breviloquium," XXIII 
sq. ; The "Itinerarium," 
XXIII; Doubtful writ- 




ings of, XXIV; And the 
"Angclus," XXIV sq.; 
On the Immaculate Con 
ception, XXV ; Exeget- 
ical writings of, XXV 
sq. ; Papal legate at 
the Council of Lyons. 
XXVIII sq ; Office for 
Corpus Christi, XXVIII 
sq. ; Last illness and 
death, XXX ; Canoniza 
tion of, XXXI; "The 
Seraphic Doctor," XXXI, 
Bread, Eternal, 93. 


Calvary, 66. 

Charity, 82 sqq. 

Christ, Humility of, 14 sq. ; 
Poverty of, 24 sqq. ; 
Death of, 26 sq. ; Rea 
sons for being grateful 
to, 51 sq. ; Remembrance 
of His Passion, 62 sqq.; 
And charity, 84 sq. ; 
Love of, 86 sq. 

Chrysostom, St., 85, 89. 

Clare, St., XVII sqq., 19, 
28, 32. 

Companionship, 41. 

Costello, Laurence, O. F. 
M., XIX. 

Cross of Christ, The, 62 

sqq., 77, 79- 
Crucifixion, 64 sqq. 


DAVID, i, 6, 29, 48, 55, 56, 

57, 59, 74- 
Devil, The, 45. 
Devotion, Excess of, 56. 




Elevation of soul, 56 sq., 

58 sqq. 
Envy, 4 sq. 


Francis of Assisi, St., VII, 

XII, XIV, XXIV, 10 sq., 

19, 32. 

Friars Minor, IX sqq. 
Frugality, 80 sq. 


Gerson, John, II sq. ; 

Golgotha, 67. 
Good, Supreme, 95. 



Gossiping, 37 sqq. 
Grace, 47, 54, 55, 63. 
Gratitude, 49 sqq., 78. 
Gregory X, Pope, XXVIII- 
Gregory the Great, n, 33 
43, 90- 


HEAVEN, 90 sqq. 
Hell, 48, 83. 
Humility, 10 sqq. 


Ingratitude, 52. 
Inquisitiveness, 4. 
Isabella, Bl., XX. 
Isaias, 37. 
Isidore, St., 46, 48 sq. 

Law of God, i sqq. 
Love of God, 82 sqq. 
Lucifer, 12 sq. 
Luke, St., 92. 
Luxuries, 4. 


MARK, ST., 25. 

Mary, Bl. Virgin, XXIV, 

13 sq., 1 8, 29, 39, 69. 
Mary Magdalen, 48. 
Matthew, St., 26, 30. 
Mendicants, VIII sq. 
Modesty, 43. 



Jerome, St., 41 sq. 

Job, 27, 80. 

John of Parme, X, XIV. 

John, St., Baptist, 40. 

John, St., Evangelist, 40. 

Joy, Eternal, 98. 






CHRIST S, 62 sqq. 
Paul, St., 24, 49, 64, 83. 
Peace, 36 sq. 
Perseverance, Final, 88 

Peter Lombard, 83. 



Pilate, 70. 

Pleasures of sense, 3 sq. 

Poor Clares, XVII sqq., 

Poverty, Two views of in 

Franciscan Order, X ; 

Necessary to spiritual 

perfection, 23; Motives 

for, 23 sqq. ; Example of, 

33 sq. 
Prayer, Practice of, 45 

sqq. ; Conditions required 

for perfect, 47 sqq.; 

Definition of, 54 sq.; 

Fruits of, 54; Frequent, 

59 sq. 
Pride, 12 sq., 21 sq., 38. 


52 sq., 55 sq. 

Reward, Eternal, 90 sq. 

Riches, Love of, 33- 

Robinson, Fr. Paschal, O. 
F. M, XXV sq. 

XXI sq., XXIII, 63. 

Saints, 96 sq. 

St. Amour, Wm. of, VIII 

Scotus, Duns, VIII, XXV. 
Self-Knowledge, I sqq., 16. 
Seneca, 42. 
Servants of servants, 

Christ the, 67. 
Silence, A helpful virtue, 

36 sqq.; Advantages of, 

39 sqq. 
Sin, The root causes of, 

i sq.; Whither it leads, 


Sixtus V, XXXI. 
Sloth, 5. 

Solitary life, The, 41. 
Sufferings of Christ, 62 

sqq., 68 sqq. 

Tepidity, 45. 
Thanksgiving, 49 sqq. 
Thomas, St., VIII sq., 


Tongue, Sins of the, 37 

sqq., Control of the, 42 






VIRGINITY, 20 sq. 

Virtue, Advance in, 7 sq. ; 
The life-giving principle 
of all, 82 sqq. ; The 


Wounds of Christ, 63, 77, 


crown of all, 88 sqq. XENOCRATES, 44. 

BQ 6467 . P4 c.2 SMC 

St. Bonaventure 
Holiness of life